Healthcare workers are experiencing physical assaults and bullying from patients and visitors Thinkstock

Healthcare workers are experiencing physical assaults and bullying from patients and visitors.

OSHA: Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center Exposed Workers to Unsafe Working Conditions

Employee complaint alleged the medical center exposed employees to workplace violence hazards.

On May 6, OSHA initiated an inspection of the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in response to a complaint alleging inadequate protections for employees exposed to workplace violence hazards while providing patient care.

On Nov. 6, OSHA issued citation notices to the medical center after identifying four willful, two serious and eight other-than-serious safety violations. The willful violations involved the medical center exposing employees to workplace violence and physical assault; failing to train employees on the prevention and management of workplace violence; and failing to properly record workplace injuries and illnesses on OSHA 300 logs.

Supervisors and employees were not trained on recordkeeping, resulting in the serious violations, and the other-than-serious violations all were related to recordkeeping deficiencies.

“The safety hazards identified at this facility demonstrate a need for a renewed commitment by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide a safe workplace for the VA employees who care for our nation's service members, veterans, their families and survivors,” said Stanley J. Dutko Jr., OSHA's area director in Norfolk.

The Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center has been inspected six times since 1992. Four of those inspections resulted in notices, including in 2009 when the facility received notices for recordkeeping deficiencies. Nationwide within the past five years, 16 inspections of VA facilities resulted in notices issued for recordkeeping deficiencies, three of which were classified as repeat.

This is the third time in recent months that OSHA has issued notices related to workplace violence to a Veterans Affairs medical facility.  Both the El Paso VA Health Care System and the Atlanta VA Medical Center were cited earlier this year for exposing employees to workplace violence and other hazards.

Continued Dutko: “All employers, including federal employers, are responsible for evaluating and determining the extent to which employees may be exposed to physical assault or other forms of workplace violence and taking the appropriate actions to eliminate or minimize that exposure. Every employer is responsible for ensuring their workplaces are safe and healthy for all employees."

The medical center has 15 business days from receipt of the notices to comply or request an informal conference with Dutko.

TAGS: Safety
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