A Massachusetts behavioral health facility faces $207,690 in proposed penalties from OSHA for violations found while conducting a follow-up inspection.

On June 29, 2017, OSHA issued UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc. – doing business as Lowell Treatment Center – a notification for failure to abate violation involving workplace violence. This follows a serious violation related to the same hazards that federal safety and health inspectors found on May 19, 2015. As a result of the 2015 inspection, the employer and OSHA entered into a Formal Settlement Agreement on April 12, 2016, which outlined specific provisions of a workplace violence prevention program.

Training provisions of the formal settlement agreement included:

Implement and maintain training to ensure all staff are aware of the Workplace Violence Prevention Program, and how that Program can be readily accessed. Training shall be conducted for all staff; including but not limited to doctors that perform work on the units, at initial orientation and annually as refresher training. Training shall include:

• instructing staff that they may state clearly to patients, other staff and visitors, outside the presence of patients, that violence or threats of violence from patients, other staff and visitors are not permitted or tolerated and what the consequences are;

• training staff, using a training program, on effective methods for responding during a workplace violence incident, involving a patient or other person;

• training affected staff to recognize patients or others who are exhibiting aggressive behavior, and on techniques for timely deescalating the behavior and what protective measures to take in cases where de-escalation is not sufficiently effective, to be provided with sufficient frequency and with hand-on exercises, practice drills, and worst-case scenarios drills, to improve staff skills and confidence in these areas;

• instructing staff about risk factors that cause or contribute to assaultive behaviors;

• training staff to report all incidents of workplace violence, and instructing them that such reporting is mandatory;

• ensuring staff are familiar with Respondent’s procedures to be applied when confronted with an incident of workplace violence; and

• ensuring staff be re4rained annually or in the time period the training program recommends.

OSHA opened a follow-up inspection on Jan. 5, 2017, after Lowell Treatment Center failed to provide documentation to show that it had implemented a workplace violence program, and the agency's Andover Area Office received a complaint alleging employees remained at risk.

OSHA found the center had failed to comply with multiple terms of its agreement, and that – despite previous citations and worker injuries – the risks for workers to suffer fatal injury or serious harm still existed. OSHA also cited the company for one repeat violation and three other-than-serious violations related to recordkeeping.

"Our inspectors found that employees throughout the Lowell Treatment Center continued to be exposed to incidents of workplace violence that could have been greatly reduced had the employer fully implemented the settlement agreement," said Galen Blanton, OSHA's regional administrator in Boston.

UHS of Westwood Pembroke, Inc., is one of the nation's largest health-care management companies.

Through its subsidiaries, UHS operates 350 behavioral health facilities, acute care hospitals, ambulatory centers, and freestanding emergency departments throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With approximately 130 workers, the Lowell Treatment Center is a 41-bed satellite facility of Westwood Lodge. The center is a psychiatric hospital that offers inpatient hospitalization and partial hospitalization for adolescents and adults.

UHS of Westwood Pembroke has notified OSHA of its intent to contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA