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OSHA proposing standards for workplace violence in health care

There's a dirty little secret among health care workers and those providing direct patient care in the social service fields. These workers are frequently subject to physical violence by those they treat and serve.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into the matter. The agency just issued a Request for Information to determine whether a standard should be proposed that would curtail this type of workplace violence in these industries.

The RFI comes on the heels of the Government Accountability Office's report indicating that instances of violence in these sectors have traditionally been "substantially higher" than in other industries.

Statistics from 2013 highlighted certain positions as being at high risk of workplace violence, including in-patient caregivers at nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities. These workers had risks that were from five to 12 times higher than others working in jobs in the private sector.

Common assaults included beating, hitting and kicking, and it is suspected that many of these incidents are unreported by the staff who are victimized.

Last July, an organization of labor union petitioned the Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, to take action and set a standard for prevention of violence in the workplace in health care settings. A national nurses group did the same, petitioning Perez and David Michaels, the administrator for OSHA. Their group outlined proposals for an industry standard.

On Jan. 10, a public meeting is being held in Washington, D.C. on the matter.

If you work in the field of health care or social service provision, and you have experienced workplace violence, your injuries could be severe. You may be unable to work in your present capacity, or ever, again. If so, you have the right to pursue workers' compensation or other financial remuneration.

Source: Safety Health, "Preventing violence in health care: OSHA seeks comment on possible standard," Dec. 07, 2016

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