Workplace violence is defined by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.” A serious safety and health issue, no federal law specifically addresses violence in the workplace; however, there are laws that impose a duty on employers to maintain a safe workplace.
For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) imposes a general duty on all employers to provide employees with a workplace that is free from hazards. Federal civil rights laws also require employers to keep the workplace free threats of violence, and state workers’ compensation laws make employers responsible for injuries sustained by employees at the workplace.
Health care workers experience substantially higher rates of injury due to workplace violence compared to workers overall. According to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office, the rate of violence against health care workers is up to 12 times higher.
In an effort to help stem the rising rate of workplace violence, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) introduced bill H.R. 7141. The proposed legislation would direct OSHA to issue a standard requiring health care employer to develop and implement workplace violence prevention programs.
With or without legislation, health care employers should evaluate their unique circumstances and develop a workplace violence plan that addresses:
LMC Insurance & Risk Management can help you take the next steps. Contact a member of our risk management team at 515-244-0166 for help with:
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