Workplace Violence Caused by Disgruntled Clients
The Problem: It’s no secret in the health care industry that 97 percent of nurses know a colleague who has been assaulted. Non-fatal assaults in health care and social services are higher than in any other industry. Additionally, the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality database reports an average of 11 registered nurses killed at work every year. Although officials worry about the safety of their patients and staff, liability concerns sometimes put people at risk. Angry, violent individuals need specialized attention. Improperly handling a crisis can mean years of litigation.
The Solution: Be pro-active in reducing the threat of workplace violence. Train staff to use reasonable methods when defusing escalating situations. Involve front-line employees in on-going safety and security strategies. Make them part of the solution by giving them the tools they need to gain control during a crisis. We provide you with the fundamentals of safety and the strategies for security to help you make smarter time, money and life-saving decisions.You Learn How To:
- Establish guidelines for preventing workplace violence.
- Identify and defuse potential outbursts.
- Incorporate ongoing training to respond to crises.
- Gain cooperation between frontline staff and management.
- Have a plan of action to deal with weapons.
- Create committees, inspections, and reporting procedures.
- Determine risk factors and solutions.
- Analyze high- and low-tech security options for the premises.
- Use non-violent means of restraining someone.
- Defend yourself in an assault.
- OSHA: established guidelines for preventing workplace violence include, but are not limited to: incorporating ongoing training to respond to crisis, cooperation between front-line employees and management, determining workplace hazards by analyzing potential isolation areas risk factors, and having a plan of action to deal with threats, violence and weapons.
- Training: establishing guidelines including adaptable safety and security procedures customized to the limits of the facility. Create zero tolerance policies for violence and threats for patients, staff, and visitors. Create reporting procedures and a filing system to evaluate and quantify progress.
- Working Together: it is essential that management demonstrate organizational duties to ensure safety and health of their employees. Equally disperse responsibilities between supervisors, managers and front-line staff, making sure everyone is clear on their duties. Managers should offer support and 'be there' when employees are in crisis.
- Employees Responsibilities: include learning their assigned duties and complying with security program guidelines. Being involved in ongoing procedures, committees, inspections, reporting and dissemination of information.
- Risk Factors: patient's families and friends bring in handguns, knives and other weapons. The presence of high profile drugs such as Oxy-Contin in pharmacies along with cash drawers makes them likely targets for robbery. Other factors include 24-hour unrestricted access in some hospitals, long waits, disgruntled family or gang members, and patients under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Nurses are sometimes isolated in remote areas and are not trained to respond to physical threats.
- Premise Security: options include security guards, metal detectors, pass keys, alarm systems, panic buttons, cell phones, proper lighting and centralized radios. A central office to respond to distress calls is essential. Security cameras and curved mirrors will assist in remote areas.
- Law Enforcement: unfortunately law enforcement’s job is usually to respond after a crisis. It is important, however, to create communication with local authorities and make them fully aware of the facility’s layout. Properly trained security guards can usually diffuse violent situation either by non-violent means or with force.
- Non-Violence Intervention: have systems in place to treat clients who are aggressive or acting out. Certified Employee Assistance Professionals or social service staff should be on call 24 hours a day to diffuse angry patients.
- Buddy System: strength in numbers. To reduce potential threats pairing staff can offset the chances of being overpowered. Elevators, stairwells, parking garages, home visits and isolated areas are all potential threats.
- Jewelry and Cash: not only is jewelry a potential target for thieves, it is a strangulation hazard. Carry only essential identification and cash. Beware of improvised weaponry in the form of surgical tools, keys, pens or other items that could be used as a weapon.
- Self Defense Training: OSHA suggests assault response training, avoiding assaults training, personal safety and self defense training or a combination of trainings may be used to reduce the risk of assault.
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