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OSHA new directives on workplace violence whistleblower investigations apply to healthcare facilities

Two recently issued documents by OSHA come from the W section of the index of occupational safety and health regulations: workplace violence prevention and whistleblower investigations were the focus of  November issue [1] of Medical Environment Update. While both documents are intended for use by OSHA inspectors, awareness on the part of safety officers could lead to better compliance and the avoidance of inspections in the first place.

Here is an excerpt:

Workplace violence prevention enforcement
“Workplace violence is a serious recognized occupational hazard, ranking among the top four causes of death in workplaces during the past 15 years,” according to OSHA’s new Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Incidents of Workplace Violence, issued September 8.

The Enforcement Procedures establish uniform procedures for OSHA inspectors when responding to incidents and complaints of workplace violence. While the document applies to all industries, the use of example scenarios and sample forms, notifications, and letters is heavily slanted toward industries considered vulnerable to workplace violence. These industries, according to OSHA, are healthcare and social service settings, and late night retail establishments.

Healthcare settings that are particularly vulnerable are psychiatric facilities, hospital emergency departments, community mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment clinics, pharmacies, community care facilities, residential facilities, and long-term care facilities. In fact, as an example of the seriousness of the hazard, the document cites the inspection of a psychiatric hospital in Maine where workers reported being assaulted by patients.

Inspections initiated; standards cited
The document explains that inspections shall be considered where there is a complaint, referral, or report of a fatality and/or catastrophic event involving an incident of workplace violence, especially when it occurs in the high-vulnerability workplaces identified by OSHA.

The feature article also includes sections on:

Also appearing in November issue of Medical Environment Update:

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