Check out this excellent video on workplace violence against nurses by Newsy investigative reporter Patrick Terpstra.
Aside from the jarring videos of nurses being attacked and the tragic interviews as they recount the attacks and try to recover — physically and emotionally — the video is also packed with information:
- Over 2400 nurses are victims of workplace violence every year and the number increased 30% since 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Hospitals consider attacks and threats against health care workers to be “part of the job.”
- Part the reason for the increase is that hospitals are faced with more and more psychiatric patients and patients who have substance abuse problems.
- Instead of responding to the increase, OSHA has reduced its efforts to address violence in health care. There were only 81 workplace violence-related OSHA inspections last year out of over 32,000 total inspections, down from 131 the year before.
- Prior to January 2017, OSHA had an emphasis program that included programmed (or random unannounced) inspections for workplace violence in nursing homes and health care institutions. The elimination of the program explains much of the reduction in workplace violence citations.
- Because there is no OSHA standard covering workplace violence, OSHA is forced to use the burdensome General Duty Clause. Because of the difficulty of using the General Duty Clause, the agency often only issues warning letters instead of citations. Terpstra found that one-quarter of inspections from 2012-2017 resulted in warning letters, and fewer than half with citations. Nothing requires inspectors to follow up on hazard letters.
- Ten states have some kind of law or OSHA standard covering workplace violence, although it is unclear how effective they are in preventing incidents.
One of the last actions of the Obama administration was to begin rulemaking on a workplace violence standard. The Trump administration has scheduled a small business (SBREFA) review to gather information on the impact of a standard on small businesses. Given the amount of time standards take at OSHA and this administration’s dislike of any new regulations, it is unlikely a final standard will see the light of day in this term.