U.S. Department of Labor Cites Medical Center for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards for Employees

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Medical Center for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards for Employees

Registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, patient care technicians and security officers provide essential services in healthcare settings. Their work also exposes them to various on-the-job hazards, including assault and other forms of workplace violence. When hazards like this exist, employers must develop and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention program. An OSHA inspection prompted by employee complaints, determined that Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx lacked adequate safeguards for employees in the pediatric emergency department of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore.

According to a press release, OSHA found that employees, including nurses, assistants, technicians and security personnel, were exposed to workplace violence. In some cases, physical assaults from violent patients occurred during one-on-one patient observations, while restraining patients during assaults and attempted escapes, and while performing holds on or restraining patients. The violent incidents resulted in worker injuries, including broken bones, bites, and neck, back and shoulder injuries. The injuries caused some employees to take time off of work. The agency determined that Montefiore's workplace violence prevention program was inadequate and lacked effective engineering and administrative controls and employee training to protect workers against the recurring hazard of workplace violence.

OSHA cited Montefiore for one serious violation under the general duty clause, with a proposed penalty of $13,653, for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. The agency also cited the facility for two other-than-serious violations, with $3,902 in proposed penalties, for incomplete, inaccurate and untimely injury and illness incident reports.

“This employer ignored repeated episodes of physical assault that put their employees at risk,” said OSHA Area Director Robert T. Garvey in Tarrytown, New York. “Employers can and must reduce workplace violence hazards by implementing and maintaining an effective workplace violence prevention program, which is an essential safeguard for these essential workers.”

Montefiore Medical Center is an academic medical center and the primary teaching hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. The Montefiore Health System consists of 15 hospitals and a primary and specialty care network of more than 180 locations across Westchester County. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent OSHRC. View information on Worker Safety in Hospitals and Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.

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