Acadia Hospital in Bangor, ME, received a citation from OSHA for allegedly not providing adequate safeguards for employees from violent patients and visitors, according to a January 28 OSHA news release. 
The $6,300 proposed fine under the general duty clause is the result of an investigation conducted by OSHA in July 2010 as a response to worker complaints. The investigation found 115 instances during a two-year period in which workers were assaulted by violent patients of the psychiatric hospital and its clinics, according to OSHA.
“The serious citation points to the clear and pressing need for the hospital to develop a comprehensive, continuous, and effective program that will proactively evaluate, identify, and prevent conditions that place workers in harm’s way,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator.
The citation suggests several ways for Acadia Hospital to address its workplace violence problems including:
- Creating a stand-alone written violence prevention program for the entire hospital
- Developing workplace violence prevention administrative and engineering controls
- Screening all patients for potential violence prior to hospital admission
- Conducting extensive training for employees
- Using a system that flags a patient’s chart any time there is a history or act of violence and training staff to understand the system
- Minimizing instances where employees work alone or in secluded places with patients
- Limiting employees from working alone or in secluded places with patients and configuring the workplace to maximize an employee’s ability to escape in the event of violence
- Developing specific procedures for employees to reports violent workplace events
The investigation yielded $5,400 in fines for six other-than-serious citations for incomplete reporting of workplace illnesses and injuries, according to OSHA.
For more on resources, go to the workplace violence prevention heading on the Tools page of the OSHA Healthcare Advisor. 
Protect your staff and patients from violence in the emergency department.  Violence in healthcare—like the recent incident at Johns Hopkins Hospital—is on the rise. Join HCPro for Violence in the ED: Proven Strategies to Keep Your Facility Safe, a 90-minute on-demand Webcast where you’ll learn a five-step approach to keeping your staff and patients safe. Our experienced speakers will also guide you through regulatory requirements related to workplace violence and provide action plans to train staff to handle unruly patients and prevent dangerous situations.