OSHA Updates Guidance for Protecting Workers from Workplace Violence

The update is primarily for protecting healthcare and social service workers

OSHA has released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers, including industry best practices and highlights the most effective ways to reduce the risk of violence in various healthcare and social service settings. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work. More than 70 percent of these assaults were in healthcare and social service settings. Health care and social service workers are almost four times as likely to be injured as a result of violence as the average private sector workers.

"It is unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones often work in fear of injury or death," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "This updated booklet will help employers implement effective measures to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards."

The revised guidelines incorporate research in the last decade into the causes of workplace violence on healthcare and social service settings, risk factors that accompany working with patients or clients who display violent behavior, and the appropriate preventative measures that can be taken.  The guidelines also stress the importance of developing a written workplace violence prevention program. According to the news release, the program should include management commitment and employee participation, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, and recordkeeping and program evaluation.

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