Workplace violence Health care/social assistance Health Care Workers

Hospital accreditation group publishes new, revised requirements for workplace violence prevention

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Oakbrook Terrace, IL — Hospitals and critical access hospital programs accredited by The Joint Commission will be required to conduct an annual analysis of the facility’s workplace violence incidents, as well as provide health care employers and workers with workplace violence prevention training, education and resources under new and revised requirements set to go into effect Jan. 1.

The commission, which accredits more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs nationwide, defines “workplace violence” as “an act or threat occurring at the workplace” that may include:

  • Verbal, nonverbal, written or physical aggression
  • Threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating words or actions
  • Bullying
  • Sabotage
  • Sexual harassment
  • Physical assault
  • Other behaviors of concern involving staff, licensed practitioners, patients or visitors

Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that, in 2018, health care workers accounted for 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses related to violence, while workers in health care and social service were about five times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than all other workers.

“However, workplace violence is underreported, indicating that the actual rates may be much higher,” the commission says. “Exposure to workplace violence can impair effective patient care and lead to psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, high turnover and higher costs.”

The commission issued the requirements June 18 after weighing feedback from stakeholders, customers and experts. Among the highlights is a requirement that organizations provide workplace violence prevention training covering:

  • What constitutes workplace violence
  • Education on the roles and responsibilities of leadership, clinical staff, security personnel and external law enforcement
  • De-escalation techniques, nonphysical intervention skills, physical intervention techniques and response to emergency incidents
  • The reporting process for workplace violence incidents

Training is to be provided at the time of hire, annually and when changes are made to an organization’s workplace violence prevention program.

Further, organizations must establish a workplace violence prevention program led by a designated person who maintains:

  • Policies and procedures to prevent and respond to workplace violence.
  • A process to report incidents so that incidents and trends can be analyzed.
  • A process for follow-up and support to victims and witnesses affected by workplace violence, including trauma and psychological counseling, if necessary.
  • Reports of workplace violence incidents for the governing body.

“Data collection and simple, accessible reporting structures show commitment to providing a safe and secure work environment,” the commission says.

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