When most people think about going into work every day, they probably assume a few things. One of those things is that they won’t be physically assaulted while doing their job. That they will go home at the end of the day without being injured or killed. For many workers, however − especially those in healthcare and social services − that is not their daily reality.
In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 23,000 workers suffered significant injuries from being assaulted at work. More than 70 percent of these assaults were in the healthcare and social service settings. Healthcare and social service workers are almost four times more likely to be injured as a result of violence in the workplace than the average private sector employee. These injuries are predictable and preventable.
All workers have a right to a safe workplace, and that means that they have a right to be protected against assaults. For that reason, between 2012 and 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has conducted 148 inspections in response to workplace violence complaints. Of those, 101 were in healthcare or social service settings.
Workplace violence is a real problem for healthcare and social service workers, and for that reason, OSHA is today releasing updated guidelines on workplace violence in health care and social services. This is the first update in over a decade and it could not have come sooner. The updated booklet highlights industry best practices and the most effective ways to reduce hazards in these high-risk environments.
The booklet incorporates new research, conducted within the last decade, into the root causes of workplace assaults in these settings and how to manage the unique challenges of working with patients or clients who may display violent behavior.
Those who work in healthcare and social services dedicate their lives to caring for the vulnerable, the sick and the downtrodden. They have a right to a safe place to do this crucial work. This new guidance will provide employers and employees with the tools they need to reduce or eliminate the risk of violent assaults in their workplaces. And OSHA will be there to help ensure they can come to work every day confident that everything is being done to ensure their safety while they perform the important job of caring for our loved ones.