Doctors, nurses, and other medical industry personnel dedicate their skills to providing health care, tireless service, and compassion toward patients. Even with optimal care, medical facilities try to harbor an aura of compassion and wellness. Unfortunately, caring for a diverse gamut of patients who may possess whatever degree of physical challenges and mental instability may take a toll on healthcare professionals, especially if patients or their colleagues exert their frustration by lashing out with physical violence.
From 2011 to 2016, 58 fatalities involving hospital workers were reported at medical facilities. Health care workplace violence accounts comprised of injuries and assaults rated five to 12 times more likely than in other industry work environments. Disturbingly, medical facilities do not carry any Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards to eliminate or prevent workplace violence from occurring. On March 8, 2018 the Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act was introduced by 13 House representatives, headed by Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), to cease the prevalence of workplace violence at medical facilities. Upon approval of the legislation, OSHA would be required to institute workplace violence prevention plans focused on both medical facilities and their interior units.
Bill in California
In 2014, Cal-OSHA enacted legislation in California that went into effect in 2017, which required the organization to create a workplace violence prevention standard for medical employers in the state. The program, which would develop and distribute workplace violence prevention plans and maintain safety for patients and workers, was slated to start on April 1, 2018. The new bill introduced by House representatives mirrors the California legislation.
What the Bill Would Establish
Using information gathered from physicians, other medical professionals, and janitorial staff, a workplace violence prevention program would be created and implemented. Threats of violence and physical assaults would fall under the umbrella of workplace violence. The bill primarily focuses on prevention and education, as well as enlisting staff to counter these instances before they occur. Nurses, doctors, and other facility employees will keep abreast of assault situations that may result in injuries or fatalities. Medical facilities would be required to assess risk factors in the environment and with patients and provide adequate staffing and security measures. Representative Khanna believes the OSHA bill will be as successful as the California legislation, and National Nurses United agrees.
How to Alleviate or Eliminate Workplace Violence Issues
Even before such a bill may become law, experts believe steps can be taken to alleviate or eliminate workplace violence issues altogether in the healthcare industry. It is stated that medical facilities may not be setting enough standards to prevent issues from happening. Affixing furniture and lighting to walls and floors is one way to prevent them from being used as weapons. Offering panic buttons or accessible phones to workers to report assaults may assist in preventing more severe violence and will immediately alert authorities about incidents. Another safeguard is allowing clear lines of sight when health workers tend to patients, so that colleagues will observe any acts of violence.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Offer Legal Guidance to Victims of Workplace Violence
If you have been injured at work, contact our Columbia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. at 803-929-3600 or contact us online. You may set up a free, no-obligation consultation at one of our six locations throughout South Carolina. We represent clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.