In March 2016, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report titled: Workplace Safety and Health and Additional Efforts Needed to Help Protect Health Care Workers from Workplace Violence. The study noted that OSHA provides enforcement for the private sector in 24 states and the District of Columbia; that the states provide enforcement under OSHA-approved state plans for the private sector and the state and local public sector in 21 states; and, the state provides enforcement under an OSHA-approved state plan for state and local public sectors, and OSHA provides enforcement for the private sector in 5 states. These statistics were important in evaluating the issues, which was written to address the statistics evidencing that private-sector health care workers who are employed by in-patient facilities, such as hospitals, experienced workplace-violence related injuries requiring days off from work at a rate of almost five (5) times higher than those in the private-sector according to the Department of Labor. The GAO identified three areas OSHA could improve upon to help change the tides of workplace violence and resulting safety issues. A copy of the report can be found here: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/675858.pdf
As many of you know, OSHA does not require employers to implement workplace prevention programs, but it does provide voluntary guidelines, and OSHA can still cite employers for failing to provide a workplace free from serious hazards. In light of the findings by the GAO, OSHA has decided to hold a meeting for the public, including employers and employees, to provide comments regarding how to best address the workplace violence issue. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Jan. 10 at the U.S. Department of Labor, Great Hall, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210. To register, go to https://projects.erg.com/conferences/osha/register-osha-workplace-violence-meeting.html. Although OSHA does not require the implementation of prevention programs, adopting specific policies and procedures for your organization can certainly set you up to be more successful from an operational standpoint. If you need assistance in drafting any such policies, contact our office and we will be happy to assist.