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Preventing violence in health care: OSHA seeks comment on possible standard

December 7, 2016

Washington – OSHA has announced a Request for Information on whether the agency should propose a standard aimed at preventing workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

The RFI follows a report from the Government Accountability Office that found rates of workplace violence in those industries are “substantially higher” than in private industry overall. The full extent of the issue is unknown, GAO stated, but the most recent available data from 2013 showed that health care workers at in-patient facilities, including hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities, experienced a rate of workplace violence five to 12 times greater than the general private-sector worker population.

The most common types of reported assaults are hitting, kicking and beating, according to GAO, and incidents likely are underreported.

The deadline to submit comments is April 6.

In addition, a public meeting on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Washington.

In July, a coalition of labor unions sent a petition to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, calling for a standard on preventing workplace violence in health care. That same month, Silver Spring, MD-based National Nurses United sent its own petition to Perez and OSHA administrator David Michaels, detailing proposed elements of a standard.