Healthcare workers are at risk of assault and other forms of violence each day they report to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of violent acts against healthcare workers have continued to rise in recent years. In fact, Cal/OSHA implemented a regulation in 2017 to help address this workplace risk.

What your employees need to know about workplace violence in healthcare

Most violent acts in healthcare occur during an interaction with a patient. However, your employees may also experience physical, verbal, or written threats from people visiting patients—or from coworkers.

Your employees will need to know how to report incidents of violence and how to seek medical help when necessary, without the threat of repercussion. Your incident reporting methods can include:

  • A paper form to fill out
  • An online portal
  • An email address where complaints can be sent
  • An in-person report to a supervisor

Employees should also be aware of the security risks at your workplace such as areas with uncontrolled access, and the parking lot area. Those who begin or end their shift when it’s dark outside face an additional safety risk when walking from the parking lot to the building entrance.

What your employees need to do to help prevent workplace violence in a healthcare setting

Be alert and prepared. Anyone witnessing an incident or threat should report it right away. This includes notifying both management and law enforcement. It also includes notifying emergency medical response if a victim’s injuries require medical attention.

Get involved. California law requires healthcare facilities to have a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan. Employees and their representatives must be involved in developing, implementing and reviewing the plan. It is also important to hold regular meetings with employees and their representatives to get input on the risks they face, warning signs they have noticed, and ideas on how to prevent violent incidents or threats. Involvement also includes refresher training on the Workplace Prevention Plan at least once per year, which covers topics from the initial training as well as the results of your plan’s annual reviews.

What to cover at your safety meeting on workplace violence in healthcare

Discuss the risks your employees face on the job and give them a chance to ask questions and make suggestions on how to mitigate those risks.

Topics can include:

  • Warning signs for potential violence (both physical and nonphysical)
  • Reporting violent incidents to management and law enforcement
  • Seeking assistance to prevent or respond to violence
  • The role of witnesses in an investigation
  • Available resources for victims of violence
  • Addressing security issues at your location

Make sure your employees know about your Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and where it’s kept so that they can review it. Encourage them to get involved. And, let them know how you plan to implement changes to make your workplace safer and protect them.