Healthcare workers face many different on-the-job risks. From the danger of needle sticks to the potential for slip and falls in busy hospital and healthcare settings, there are a lot of different things that can endanger professionals within the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, one of the biggest risk factors in both the social assistance sector and the healthcare sector is violence in the workplace. The problem of violence within the workplace has become such a big issue for healthcare workers that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a Request for Information to determine whether OSHA should propose a standard to try to curb the violence.
OSHA is very slow to act and it takes a long time to promulgate and pass a standard, if one is actually ever created. Unfortunately, healthcare workers continue to be at serious risk and they receive minimal protections aimed at addressing the risk of violence under current worker safety laws. If you or someone you love is a healthcare worker hurt at work due to violence, an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer can help. Work injury attorneys actually assist employees in all fields who are harmed by violence on the job, from healthcare workers and first responders to security professionals and more.
Could OSHA Help Protect Workers from Atlanta Worker Protection Laws
The Request for Information announced by OSHA is the first step that would need to be taken if OSHA were eventually to put a standard in place aimed at preventing acts if violence against employees in the healthcare sector.
The RFI was announced after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a troubling report about acts of violence against healthcare and social assistance workers. The report called the risk of violence “substantially higher,” than in private industries. It is somewhat difficult to collect data on this issue, and to get an accurate assessment of exactly how much jeopardy healthcare workers are in of being hurt or killed by workplace violence. However, estimates suggest that the risk of violence to healthcare workers is five to 12 times greater than the general private-sector worker population faces of being affected by violence in the workplace.
Assault is the most likely type of violence a healthcare worker experiences, and this can often be perpetrated by patients. For example, GAO says many healthcare workers are subject to hitting, beating, and kicking. GAO cautions the number of incidents are likely dramatically under-reported.
It is not immediately clear what OSHA could do to set standards for employers to combat this behavior. However, the first step in the process is to submit the notice of information and that step is underway. The public can now submit comments, and can attend a public meting which is scheduled in Washington on January 10, 2017. The deadline for the submission of comments on the creation of a safety standard addressing violence in healthcare workplaces is April 6, 2017.
Parsons & Associates, P.C. is an Atlanta workers’ compensation law firm serving Atlanta, Savannah, and surrounding areas throughout Fulton County. Contact Parsons & Associates, P.C. today at 770-422-9000 or contact us online if you have been injured at work.