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Behavioral health facility denied employees violence protection

behavioral health facility

An administrative law judge ruled employees at a Massachusetts behavioral health facility were not protected against workplace violence, the decision coming more than three years after the employer was cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

OSHA announced the finding Tuesday that UHS of Delaware Inc. and UHS of Fuller Inc. failed to take steps to prevent employees from being harmed at Fuller Hospital in Attleboro.

OSHA cited the companies for exposing employees to workplace violence in late 2019. The companies contested the citation before the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and a judge affirmed the serious citation.

The judge also upheld proposed OSHA abatement measures designed to protect employees from workplace violence, such as providing workers with panic alarms, providing trained security personnel on all shifts and ensuring units are staffed to handle behavioral health emergencies.

The companies, which operate the hospital as a single employer, were also sanctioned for destroying video surveillance showing incidents of workplace violence.

The judge’s decision was appealed to the full Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA’s investigation stemmed from complaints by employees who said the hospital’s lack of safeguards led to them being kicked, punched, slapped, bitten and having their hair ripped out.

Some workers also suffered repeated concussions.

OSHA said more than 500 incidents occurred over a seven-month period in 2019.

Fuller Hospital provides inpatient hospitalization to adolescents and adults.