In a three-month period this year, health care workers at Bergen Regional Medical Center LP in Paramus were victims of violent patients in eight incidents, including one in which a nurse suffered a laceration and bruises attempting to stop an attack on a patient.
Following a worker's complaint, OSHA inspected the facility and found eight incidents of workplace violence from Feb. 22, 2015, through June 12. OSHA cited the facility on August 18 for one general duty clause citation for failing to keep the workplace free of hazards.
Employees reported incidents that involved patients barricading workers in a room, threatening them and exposing them to bloodborne pathogens. Several employees experienced being bit, punched, kicked and threatened by patients.
"Bergen Regional Medical Center's management recognized workplace hazards, but lacked adequate procedures to prevent employee exposure," said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA's Hasbrouck Heights Area Office. "With so many incidents, it's clear that this facility's workplace violence program is ineffective and should be improved immediately to protect employees and ensure a safe workplace."
OSHA issued one repeated citation for incorrectly recording workplace injuries on the OSHA 300A illness and injury reporting form. Proposed penalties total $13,600.
In June, the agency expanded use of its enforcement resources in hospitals and nursing homes to focus on workplace violence, one of the most common causes of injuries among healthcare workers. Guidelines for preventing workplace violence for health and social service workers are available at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3148.pdf*
Bergen Regional Medical Center is one of the nation's largest hospitals, providing long-term, behavioral health and acute care in northern New Jersey. With more than 1,070 beds, it is also one of the state's largest licensed nursing homes.
Bergen Regional Medical Center requested an informal conference with OSHA's area director after receiving the citations.