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February 22, 2013
After the attack: What OSHA recommends

If workers are given inadequate support following a violent incident, they may quit or be fearful of going back to work. Employers need to provide a program of support for workers involved in violent incidents and workers observing violent incidents. Today’s training tip gives useful information on what to do after the attack.

The following recommendations are available from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hospital eTool but may be applicable to other workplaces as well.

In order to deal with the aftermath of violent incidents in the workplace, employers should set up trained response teams and provide postincident response assistance that includes prompt medical treatment and psychological evaluation. Employers should have a follow-up program in place to offer counseling, support groups, stress debriefing, trauma-crisis counseling, and employee assistance programs.

Separate from the issue of employee response is the issue of appropriate recordkeeping. Employers that do not evaluate their violence prevention programs risk having less effective programs due to their inability to identify and correct problems. These employers also lose the opportunity to see and evaluate potential trends in violent behavior.

Recordkeeping is important to the success of your workplace violence prevention program and can help to identify the severity of the problem, evaluate methods of hazard control, and identify training needs. Recordkeeping is also useful for gathering or “pooling” data for other applications. OSHA recommends that other records be considered such as:

  • Medical reports of work injury.
  • Incidents of abuse (such as verbal abuse, or other acts of aggression, that do not result in injury).
  • Information on patients with a history of past violence should be recorded on the patient’s chart and staff made aware of the possible potential for aggression.
  • Training records.

OSHA also recommends that you evaluate the effectiveness of your facility’s violence prevention program. The evaluation:

  • Identifies any problems or deficiencies that can then be corrected;
  • Allows for management to review program effectiveness and reevaluate policies and procedures on a regular basis; and
  • Helps management analyze trends, measure improvements, and keep abreast of new trends to reduce workplace violence.

For more information on healthcare or hospital safety, see this OSHA Hospital eTool for reference.

Why It Matters...
  • According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one-sixth of violent crimes occur in the workplace. There are more than 1.5 million incidents a year.
  • Violence is the second leading cause of workplace deaths. Three workers die each day. Guns are involved in 80 percent of deaths.
  • As many as 18,000 people are assaulted at work each week.
  • Violence costs American industry millions of dollars in lost productivity, legal fees, and other related expenses every year.
  • Certain types of jobs pose a higher risk for violence, including jobs in which you handle cash, work alone, work late-night or early morning hours, work in high-crime areas, guard valuables, or work in community settings.
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