It’s being called the strongest regulation in the nation to address workplace violence in the healthcare industry. And, it’s on the books right here in California. On April 1, 2017, Cal/OSHA General Industry Safety Orders 3342 took effect, requiring healthcare facilities throughout the state to take a more stringent and detailed approach to identifying, reporting, and preventing violent incidents against their employees. This law has a two-phase implementation, with the second part required to be in place by April 1, 2018.

But the origins of this regulation date back almost four years. In 2014, the California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses United (NNU) sought greater protection for healthcare workers, amid a growing rate of violent incidents at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. Perpetrators are often the patients treated in these facilities, but also include visitors, intruders, and even coworkers.

The lobbying efforts by CNA and NNU led to the passage of Senate Bill 1299 – which mandated the new Cal/OSHA standard. And, less than three months before the California standard took effect in 2017, the NNU appeared before Federal OSHA, lobbying for a national standard to better protect healthcare workers.

What’s in place now?

By now, healthcare facilities in the Golden State – including hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and psychiatric facilities must have the following in place:

  • Violent Incident Log to record details about all incidents, post-incident responses, and workplace violence injury investigations. (Records must be maintained for at least five years).
  • Recordkeeping procedure to include not just the violent incident log, but also up-to-date documentation on how to identify and correct workplace violence hazards and all employee-training paperwork.

What’s to come in April?

One of the key requirements due in place by April 1, 2018 is a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. It is the employer’s responsibility to establish this plan, put it in motion, and maintain it – making changes as needed before and after implementation.

The plan is specific to a given site and must address the potential threats or acts of violence your employees could face while at work. This includes verbal or written threats, combative patients, violent coworkers, and the potential for visitors to engage in violent behavior toward your staff.

A big part of this plan is training. All employees at any given facility are provided initial training to help them identify and avoid potential violent situations (see sidebar). Additional training is required whenever new equipment is introduced, new worker practices are implemented, and when a new violence hazard is identified.