Why Having a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in Healthcare is Vital to Success

It is difficult to watch the daily news without seeing headlines of a workplace falling victim to a hostile act. This is even more prevalent in the healthcare industry. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the healthcare and social service industries have the greatest rates of workplace violence injuries, with workers in these industries being five times more likely to be injured than other workers. In addition, workplace violence in the health sector is estimated to account for about a quarter of all workplace violence. In 2020 alone there were there were 392 workplace homicides and 37,060 nonfatal injuries in the workplace resulting from an intentional injury by another person per the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics*.

Not only is this imperative to keep your employees and healthcare customers safe, it is a regulatory requirement and OSHA is watching. OSHA reports from 2002 to 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average. The problem is so pervasive that the American Nursing Association has cited that the numbers of workplace violence in the nursing industry are dangerously underreported with nearly one quarter of all nurses reporting being physically assaulted*. So the questions then become: What are you doing to mitigate these risks? Do you have a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan in place? How do you manage and implement a successful plan to keep your employees and customers safe from violence?

Everything starts with creating a well written plan that is not only compliant with OSHA standards and regulations but is also functional. Too many times, a good plan is created only to be exiled to a binder that sits on a shelf, collecting dust, never to be opened again. Just like every business and every office is unique, so too should your plan. Developing it should involve everyone. Everyone has a stake in the outcomes this plan supports, so everyone should have their observations heard. And once the plan has been created, it needs to be reviewed by everyone on a regular basis and become something everyone knows like the back of their hand.

The other component is ongoing and requires you to step back from the operational perspective and champion this plan as part of your office culture. It is about maintaining a standard of care that safeguards employees. Not only does this change in culture lead to a reduction in the number of workplace violence incidents, it increases employee well-being and retention. Failure to implement could lead to a continued risk of incidents as well as fines from OSHA, who has already adopted the new more robust standards suggested in H.R.1195 from 2021.

Although starting a plan seems overwhelming, and maintaining such a plan seems cumbersome, the truth is that it is easier than you may think. New software from BluWater Risk Management takes the burden and guess work out of compliance standards and breaks down what needs to be done to comply with H.R. 1195. The walkthrough and easy-to-fill-out template will help you create your plan in less time and without the guesswork. Not only will this lead to a safer workplace, it will lead to more efficiency and long-term profitability for your facility.

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