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OSHA addresses violence in health care, social service industries


The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has updated its guide for protecting health care and social service workers from workplace violence, the agency said Thursday.

The revised publication, “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers,” updates OSHA's 1996 and 2004 guides with recent data and suggestions for implementing a written program for workplace violence prevention, the agency said in a statement.

According to the updated guidelines, a written program for workplace violence prevention “offers an effective approach to reduce or eliminate the risk of violence in the workplace.” Such a program should include management commitment and employee participation; a worksite analysis; hazard prevention and control; safety and health training; and recordkeeping as well as a program evaluation.

“Cooperation between workers and employers in identifying and assessing hazards is the foundation of a successful violence prevention program,” the guide states.

More than 70% of assaults on workers that resulted in injuries in 2013 occurred in health care and social service settings, OSHA's statement says, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health care and social service workers are nearly four times more likely to be injured as a result of violence than the average private sector worker, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

“It is unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones often work in fear of injury or death,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said in the statement. “This updated booklet will help employers implement effective measures to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards.”