Colorado Company Cited in Workplace Violence Case

OSHA has issued a serious citation to Pioneer Health Care Center for failing to implement adequate measures to protect employees from workplace violence hazards due to violent behavior by residents.

OSHA announced it has cited Pioneer Health Care Center of Rocky Ford, Colo., under the General Duty Clause for failing to protect employees from violence in the workplace. The nursing home faces proposed penalties of $9,054.

OSHA said it opened an investigation at the facility in response to two complaints related to workplace violence received in August 2017, and the investigation identified five documented incidents of workplace violence in 2017 that resulted in employee injuries, along with several unreported incidents. OSHA has issued a serious citation for failing to implement adequate measures to protect employees from workplace violence hazards due to violent behavior by residents -- specifically identified in the citation as causing "bites, sprains, broken skin, bruising, scratches, soft tissue trauma, and injuries to the head and torso from punches, kicks, and forceful grabs."

The citation lists a variety of engineering and work practice controls, as part of a workplace violence prevention program that could be used at the nursing home. The controls include installing security cameras in the common areas, providing two-way radios and personal panic alarms to certified nursing assistants and other staffers, encouraging staffers to secure loose hair so it isn't accessible to residents, conducting site-specific employee training, removing unsecured items and bolting furniture (when appropriate) to the floor to prevent these from becoming weapons for residents to use against employees, and ensuring employees report all assaults or threats to a supervisor or manager.

"Employers are responsible for providing employees a safe and healthy workplace," said OSHA's Englewood Area Director David Nelson. "Pioneer Health Care Center must understand that their employees’ safety is important."

The citation was issued Jan. 29. Pioneer Health Care Center, which provides residential services that mostly consist of long-term care and mental health services, has 15 business days after receiving the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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