With nearly 2 million cases of reported workplace violence each year and several more unreported, a comprehensive workplace violence program is necessary, according to OSHA.
The sexual assault of a national pediatric health care provider's home health care worker and subsequent investigation has affirmed the importance of such a program.
OSHA opened an investigation following a complaint on Feb. 1, 2016, from a Pennsylvania employee of AndVenture Inc. dba Epic Health Services after a home care client assaulted an employee, despite being warned by other workers about sexual assaults.
Epic Health Services received numerous reports of verbal, physical and sexual assaults on employees, as well as a report of an employee forced to work in a house in which domestic violence occurred. OSHA cited the company for one willful violation related to employee exposure to workplace violence, including physical and sexual assault.
"Epic Health Services failed to protect its employees from life-threatening hazards of workplace violence and failed to provide an effective workplace violence prevention program, said Richard Mendelson, OSHA regional administrator in Philadelphia in a statement. "No worker should ever have to sacrifice their physical well-being to earn a paycheck."
OSHA inspectors found Epic Health exposed employees to the risks of physical assaults as they provided nursing care services to both clients and family members.
The company failed to implement a system for reporting threats or incidents of violence. In addition, Epic Health did not have
- A written, comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.
- Workplace violence hazard assessment and security procedures for each new client.
- Procedures to control workplace violence such as a worker's right to refuse to provide services in a clearly hazardous situation without fear of retaliation.
- A workplace violence training program.
- Procedures to be taken in the event of a violent incident in the workplace, including incident reports and investigations.
- A system for employees to report all instances of workplace violence, regardless of severity.
The agency also cited the company for failing to record injuries properly on OSHA forms.
OSHA fined Epic Health $98,000 for the hazards.
Epic Health has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care & Social Service Workers" resource is available online at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3148.pdf. Additional information on workplace violence is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html.