OSHA is requesting feedback as it considers developing a standard aimed at preventing workplace violence in the health care and social assistance industries.

The agency is accepting until July 3 comments regarding a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel report on the potential standard, as well as other documents related to options OSHA is considering.

The panel met multiple times from March 1 to May 1, discussing control measures and hazard assessments related to workplace violence, preventive training, violent incident investigations and recordkeeping, and anti-retaliatory provisions.

OSHA says workers in health care, law enforcement and public service are among those who face a higher risk of workplace violence, defined by the agency as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening behavior” occurring at work.

Acts of violence and other injuries ranks as the third leading cause of fatal workplace injuries in the United States.

A draft regulatory framework recognizes multiple risk factors for Type II workplace violence – or violent acts committed against workers – that OSHA would seek to address in the potential rulemaking. They are: direct patient care; lack of facility policies and staff training on recognizing and managing escalating hostile and assaultive behaviors from patients, clients, visitors or staff; poor environmental design of the workplace that may block employees’ vision or interfere with their escape from a violent incident; lack of means of emergency communication; inadequate security; unrestricted movement of the public in clinics and hospitals; working alone in a facility or in patients’ homes.

The panel recommends that the potential standard “be flexible and allow employers to tailor their approaches to complying with the requirements of the rule to the size and complexity of their facility, setting or industry.”

Additionally, the panel calls on OSHA to “evaluate different ways to structure the regulatory text, for example, by delineating the requirements for health care versus the requirements for certain types of social assistance.”

This content, OSHA Wants Input on Protecting Health Care Workers from Violence, was originally shared by Safety + Health Magazine on June 20, 2023.

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