On March 4, 2019 the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled the employer of a slain social services worker failed to protect their employee.
Although the company had not violated a specific safety standard, the Commission upheld the citation stating appropriate safeguards were not implemented to protect the victim. Some suggested security measures would include, background checks, alerting employees of a patient's criminal history, or instituting a workplace violence program.
This ruling has reinvigorated the advocacy for the standardization of Workplace Violence Prevention Programs. This is particularly important for the healthcare industry where some of the highest rates of workplace assault are found, with roughly 75% of healthcare workers reporting some sort of work-related incident.
While there is no standard on creating a workplace violence prevention program currently in effect, we have some helpful tips on how to create and implement one in your practice to improve employee and patient safety.
When creating a workplace violence policy, you should:
- Provide an explicit definition of workplace violence in relation to your business
- Identify possible aggressors and the most likely scenarios
- Provide a detailed prevention strategy
- Create a training program, ecourage monitoring and reporting threats, and outline a response plan
Defining Workplace Violence
Your definition of workplace violence should encompass both real incidents of physical violence and written and/or verbal threats. It's best to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all components of workplace violence since there is always a possibility of escalation.
Set realistic parameters for acceptable workplace behavior unique to your office, and treat every infraction equally in both investigation and discipline.
Identify Your Risks
Violent attacks can be broadly categorized in the following groups:
Outsider Attacks these are carried out by someone with no connection to the facility.
Insider Attacks these are perpetrated by either a current or former employee.
Customer Attacks these attacks are committed against clientele or other patients.
Relationship Attacks these attacks are executed by somebody related to an employee or patient.
Your written policy should account for the possibility of each of these attacks and how to best identify and handle them.
When creating a workplace violence strategy, it's important to assess your greatest hazards and find solutions to mitigate these risks. Employees should be made aware of their specific responsibilities in preventing or handling an incident. Finally, have a threat management team consult with emergency responders to learn how to anticipate and prevent violent situations.
Training, Monitoring, Reporting, and Responding
Treat workplace violence like any other on-the-job hazard, address it in regular training sessions with continuing education on the types of attacks and mandatory crisis response drills. During these training exercises, stress the importance of monitoring patients and employees for early warning signs of potential violence. Ensure a system is in place for employees to safely disclose their concerns if they believe someone is threat. Regularly review how these reports should be made. Most importantly, review your plan-of-action in the event of an emergency with employees. Employees should be trained on how to respond to an active threat and should be aware of their responsibilities in handling a problem.
For more information on preventing workplace violence please visit here. To learn more about the recent ruling on workplace violence prevention visit here. If your practice is interested in receiving more resources on workplace violence or you are looking for coverage to protect yourself from such events, please contact or Account Manager, Scott Jared for more information.
Guide to Writing Policies to Prevent Workplace Violence - A guide developed by McGowan Program Administrators