Preventing Workplace Violence in the Healthcare Industry

preventing workplace violence, healthcare industry, Timothy Dimoff

Physical assaults and threatening or violent behaviors are growing problems in the healthcare workplace. That is why workplace prevention violence in and around hospitals and healthcare facilities is a fundamental need, especially in today’s climate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates that healthcare and social service workers face a significant risk of job-related violence. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare industry has more assaults and violent acts than any other industry, causing more time away from work (see chart below) – and it’s on the rise.

preventing workplace violence, healthcare industry

Work-related assaults and other incidents of workplace violence primarily result from violent behavior from patients, clients, and residents in healthcare and social service settings. If your employees work with people who have a history of violence or who have abused drugs or alcohol, or if they work with the public or with stressed-out relatives of patients, they may be at increased risk for workplace violence.

Increased Risk Factors

Management commitment and worker participation are essential when developing and maintaining an effective violence prevention program.

High-risk situations can include:

  • Working with volatile, unstable people
  • Transporting patients, residents, or clients
  • Working alone in a facility or a patient’s home
  • Lack of emergency communication
  • Working late at night or early morning hours
  • Working in poorly lit corridors, areas, rooms, and parking lots
  • Working in areas with high crime rates
  • Availability of firearms and weapons
  • Long waits for care and services
  • Overcrowded or uncomfortable waiting rooms

Job Hazard Analysis

You should perform a job hazard analysis to identify specific tasks or jobs that may put your employees at risk.

As in any business, management commitment and worker participation are essential when developing and maintaining an effective violence prevention program. Ensuring that both management and employees are involved in creating and operating a workplace violence program and that both participate in regular training is the key to making it work.

You should perform a job hazard analysis to identify specific tasks or jobs that may put your employees at risk, prioritizing those requiring administering medicine and transferring patients or residents. Also, conducting employee surveys to identify potential dangers may be helpful. Those on the front lines are uniquely equipped to articulate the risks they face and the dangerous behavior they encounter most often.

Workplace Violence Prevention Program

Here are 14 elements that should be part of your workplace violence prevention program:

  1. Maintain a system of accountability involving managers, supervisors, and workers.
  2. Establish a comprehensive medical and psychological counseling program and debrief workers who have experienced or witnessed assaults and other violent incidents.
  3. Ensure that trauma-informed care is available.
  4. Establish policies for reporting, recording, and monitoring any incidents.
  5. Implement physical control measures to prevent or reduce workplace violence, including:
    1. physical barriers (such as enclosures or security guards) or door locks
    2. metal detectors
    3. silent alarms
    4. additional lighting
    5. more accessible exits
    6. closed-circuit security cameras
    7. parabolic mirrors
    8. door and window glass panels
    9. lockable bathrooms, staff counseling, and treatment rooms
  6. Implement administrative and work practice controls, including log-in and log-out procedures.
  7. Research the behavioral history of new and transferred patients and residents.
  8. Communicate with staff about violent history or new incidents.
  9. Treat and interview aggressive or agitated patients in relatively open areas.
  10. Implement a buddy system when personal safety may be threatened.
  11. Provide responsive, timely information to people waiting for updates or care.
  12. Implement sign-in procedures for all visitors and guests.
  13. Use properly trained security officers and counselors to respond to aggressive behavior.
  14. Have contingency plans to treat clients who are being aggressive or are making verbal or physical threats or attacks.

Need Help Preventing Workplace Violence?

Fill out his contact form or call him at 330-730-3424 to help your organization learn a pragmatic approach to preventing workplace violence in your hospital, urgent care, or assisted living facility.

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