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Workplace violence prevention in health care settings

Minnesota OSHA Workplace Safety Consultation hosted a roundtable discussion meeting Nov. 1, 2012, in St. Paul, Minn., about preventing workplace violence in health care settings. The event featured three speakers and an open discussion about violence issues being faced in today's health care workplaces.

Story about Nov. 1, 2012, workplace violence prevention roundtable discussion

MNOSHA Workplace Safety Consultation (WSC) hosted a roundtable discussion about workplace violence prevention in health care settings, Nov. 1, at the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).

More than 60 participants listened to presentations from representatives of DLI, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and St. Cloud Hospital. The audience was encouraged to participate, asking questions and offering solutions.

Marty Williams, HCMC, stated the importance of having security and human resources working together to implement a plan for managing workplace violence prevention. HCMC has been following the plan outlined in Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention ANSI Standard (ASIS/SHRM WVP.1-2011).

The new standard establishes policies, processes and protocols that organizations can adopt to identify and prevent threatening behavior and violence affecting the workplace, and to better address and resolve threats and violence that have occurred.

The standard also describes the implementation of a workplace violence prevention and intervention program, as well as protocols for effective incident management and resolution. The standard is available for purchase on the American National Standards Institute website at http://webstore.ansi.org.

Karen Witzman, St. Cloud Hospital, stressed the importance of care-staff members reporting any type of incidence of violence. Too often, she said, care-staff members have accepted violent situations as part of the job versus looking at these types of events as an opportunity to investigate and to determine measures to minimize the risk for violence toward the staff.

Also, more rural facilities have been experiencing workplace violence incidents, emphasizing the need to establish a plan to minimize the risk. A copy of the hospital's injury report form has been included on DLI's workplace violence prevention Web page – at www.dli.mn.gov/ WSC/Wvp.asp – as an example for workplace violence prevention investigations.

Another issue discussed was the need to assess violence potential by conducting risk assessments, upon admission, and determining precautions to minimize any risk. To better inform hospital staff members of potentially violent patients, a method was developed to confidentially communicate which patients have a history of or are a risk for aggressive behavior. An unobtrusive, standard sign signifying a patient has a history of aggressive behavior is posted on the doorway to notify staff members entering the room of the potential risk. This allows for precautions to be taken, such as acquiring additional staff members prior to entering the room.

Vikki Sanders, Workplace Safety Consultation, discussed the importance of having a written plan that establishes methods for preventing and responding to workplace violence situations. Understanding and identifying the "warning signs" can help prevent a situation from escalating to a point where people get hurt. Maintaining personal conduct that is calm, focused and empathetic to the customer or client can prevent potentially violent situations from escalating.

Policy models can be found online at www.dli.mn.gov/WSC/Wvp.asp.

In light of recent incidents of workplace violence and the ongoing risk in health care settings, the roundtable discussion proved to be timely and emphasized the need for more attention to this type of workplace injury risk.

Video excerpts from the three speakers are below.

Arrow graphic Back to WSC's main workplace violence prevention page

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