Violence against workers in the health care industry nationwide in Florida and across the country is rampant. Workers in this industry are often under the impression that violence by patients or residents in a care facility is part of the job. Furthermore, they might be unsure whether an aggressor’s mental state excuses the violence.
It is crucial to report any act of aggression by patients against employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued citations totaling thousands of dollars after investigating multiple 2020 violent attacks in a Florida behavioral health care facility that also serves as a residential treatment facility.
Reportedly, OSHA investigators found numerous violent acts by residents of the facility against health care workers, which even included spitting on workers. Workers suffered rib fractures, cuts, sprains and even concussions after being kicked by residents. The agency found that the center failed to provide adequate protection for workers to prevent patient-on-staff violence. Another citation was issued for the failure to report hospitalization of employees within the regulated 24 hours.
According to OSHA, a settlement of $6,747 was reached, and the facility undertook to commit to the following plan to prevent violence against health care workers:
- Obtain the services of a qualified workplace violence prevention consultant
- Revise existing safety standards
- Increase the numbers of staff on duty
- Provide training related to workplace violence
- Increase safety communication
- Alert employees to patients who might be violent
- Identify and communicate potential triggers that might lead to violent reactions against workers
OSHA reports indicate that health care facilities are near the top of the list of most hazardous workplaces. Hospitals in the United States recorded more than 253,000 work-related illnesses and injuries over the past 10 years. Fortunately, injured health care workers in Florida are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, following the applicable procedures to report workplace injuries as soon as possible is crucial to ensure receiving coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.