Jobs in the healthcare industry can be challenging. These jobs often involve long hours, constantly changing priorities, and dealing with patients who are often upset or frustrated. However, there is an increasing concern over incidents of workplace violence in the healthcare industry.
Any type of job is at risk for workplace violence. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), almost 2 million people in the U.S. report having been victims of workplace violence every year. Even more troubling are the millions of cases of workplace violence that go unreported.
There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of workplace violence from coworkers, supervisors, or the public. This includes dealing with individuals who are unstable or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, working in isolated areas, and working late at night. The type of work many people do in the healthcare industry puts them into these higher-risk categories.
Given the heightened risks associated with violence in the healthcare industry, OSHA is looking to enact new standards to protect healthcare employees. Last month, OSHA took the first step to establishing new laws for worker protections by issuing a request for information.
“Workplace violence against employees providing healthcare and social assistance services is a serious concern,” said OSHA in a statement.
Statistics from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) show healthcare workers are five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than other industries. In 2011, more than 80,000 incidents of workplace violence were reported in the healthcare industry. Healthcare accounts for almost as many serious violence injuries as all other industries combined.
There are a number of steps employers and regulators can take to create a safer workplace for healthcare employees. Under federal law, employers have a general duty to “furnish to each of his employee's employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Recommendations include a zero-tolerance policy towards any type of workplace violence. Employers should also encourage reporting of any incidents so that employers and employees are aware of the potential hazards and can take steps to minimize the risks. Unfortunately, some employers do not treat workplace violence as the serious threat that it really is.
Illinois law provides for additional protections at the state level. Mental health and developmental disability facilities are also covered, requiring a violence prevention plan to be implemented based on findings from a risk assessment and record review to be reviewed every three years.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of workplace violence, it is important to speak out so that this kind of abuse does not go on to affect others. If a patient, coworker, or supervisor has abused you, they may be doing the same thing to others. Speak with an experienced workplace violence attorney who understands your rights and will fight to protect you and your career. At Benassi & Benassi, we are committed to getting our clients and their families the justice they deserve.