The sexual assault of a home health care worker has resulted in a willful citation against one of the nation's leading providers of pediatric home health and therapy services for medically frail and chronically ill children, after it failed to protect its employees properly from the dangers of workplace violence.
OSHA opened an investigation following a complaint on Feb. 1, 2016, from an employee of AndVenture Inc. who was sexually assaulted by a home care client after the company had been warned by another employee of sexual assaults. AndVenture does business as Epic Health Services and had received numerous reports of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on employees, as well as a report of an employee forced to work in a house in which domestic violence occurred. OSHA cited the company for one willful violation related to employee exposure to workplace violence, including physical and sexual assault.
"Epic Health Services failed to protect its employees from life-threatening hazards of workplace violence and failed to provide an effective workplace violence prevention program, said Richard Mendelson, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia.
OSHA inspectors found Epic Health exposed employees to the risks of physical assaults as they provided nursing care services to both clients and family members and had no system for reporting threats or incidents of violence. The citation includes a number of suggested and feasible means of abatement that the company can implement to address workplace violence issues, including development of:
A written, comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.
Workplace violence hazard assessment and security procedures for each new client
Procedures to control workplace violence such as a worker's right to refuse to provide services in a clearly hazardous situation without fear of retaliation;
A workplace violence training program
Procedures to be taken in the event of a violent incident in the workplace, including incident reports and investigations.
A system for employees to report all instances of workplace violence, regardless of severity.
The agency also cited the company for failing to record injuries properly on OSHA forms.
OSHA fined the company $98,000 for the hazards. Epic Health has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers" resource is available online at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3148.pdf. Additional information on workplace violence is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html.