Search form

OSHA Moves to Enforce Workplace Violence Incidents in Healthcare

By Nickole C. Winnett
  • August 5, 2015

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s efforts to address workplace violence in the healthcare industry have received a boost from a recent administrative law judge’s decision affirming OSHA citations following an employee’s death at work and, in another case, from an OSHA settlement calling upon a healthcare provider to implement an employee workplace violence prevention program nationwide.

On June 22, an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission judge upheld against a healthcare service company two citations and penalties totaling $10,500. OSHA had cited the company following the December 2012 stabbing death of an employee working as a social services coordinator in Florida by an individual who had a long criminal history of violent behavior and suffered from severe mental illness. OSHA charged the firm, which specializes in community-based nonclinical support for individuals with health care and related social service needs, with a violation of the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) for failing to provide a workplace free of recognized hazards and under a standard for not reporting the death of an employee in a timely fashion.

Nine days later, the agency announced it had reached a corporate-wide settlement with a provider of medical, dental, and mental-health services at correctional facilities nationwide to implement changes to reduce workplace violence hazards. The agreement came after the safety agency cited the company in August 2014 for failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program at a New York prison and for a reporting violation. OSHA proposed a $72,000 penalty. The agency acted after the number of alleged workplace violence incidents at the prison jumped nearly five-fold between 2011 and 2013 and following six such incidents in a three-month span in 2014.

The agreement calls for the provider to develop a workplace violence prevention program at hundreds of facilities across the country. According to OSHA, each location, in consultation with employees and unions, will develop a workplace violence prevention policy, an incident reporting system, enhanced recordkeeping procedures, a workplace violence hazard assessment and prevention program and employee training.

The company also will appoint a senior official to oversee compliance with the settlement agreement and the OSH Act. Further, it will allow OSHA to conduct inspections to monitor compliance and seek greater coordination with local departments of correction or similar agencies that work with company facilities. The firm agreed to pay a $38,000 penalty and drop its legal challenge to the citations.

"This corporate-wide settlement is significant …. It has the potential to improve how workplace violence issues are addressed by employers throughout the industry," Jeffrey Rogoff, OSHA’s regional solicitor in New York said in a press release.

OSHA announced on June 25 it would expand its enforcement in hospitals and nursing homes to focus on workplace violence and on potential safety and health risks posed by musculoskeletal disorders, blood-borne pathogens, tuberculosis and slips, trips and falls. OSHA seems "creative at going in and looking at the healthcare industry," commented Aaron Trippler, director of government affairs for the American Industrial Hygiene Association, as reported by IWP News. Regarding workplace violence specifically, Trippler said its profile as a safety and health concern is on the rise.

©2015 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

February 21, 2018

Maine Recreational Marijuana Law Limits Drug Testing, Disciplinary Consequences Imposed by Employers

February 21, 2018

A provision of Maine’s recreational marijuana law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions for off-premises marijuana use, as of February 1, 2018. This law effectively prevents Maine employers from testing for marijuana for pre-employment purposes. The law also affects employers who employ employees subject to federal... Read More

January 29, 2018

Fitness Industry Workplace Law Update – Winter 2018

January 29, 2018

Welcome to our premiere issue! Our goal is to keep fitness industry clients and contacts informed about employment and labor law issues that may affect your organizations. We hope you find this newsletter valuable and invite you to share it with interested colleagues and contacts. In this issue, we provide a brief summary of hot... Read More

January 24, 2018

2018: The Year Ahead for Employers

January 24, 2018

An executive summary of recent changes in workplace law and a look ahead to 2018. Read More

Related Practices