Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.”
-Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Workplace Violence in Healthcare: An Epidemic All its Own
According to OSHA, workplace violence poses a specifically grave threat in the healthcare industry:
Workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings face significant risks of workplace violence…From 2002 to 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average. In fact, healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined.
A tenet echoed by The American Nurses Association:
Workplace violence is one of the most complex and dangerous occupational hazards facing nurses working in today’s health care environment.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost a third of fatalities in healthcare and social service settings that occurred in 2013 were due to assaults and violent acts. A study published in New England Journal of Medicine cites that almost 75% of all workplace assaults between 2011 and 2013 happened in healthcare settings. Keep in mind that statistics surrounding healthcare violence are conservative, since many assaults on healthcare staff go unreported. Research indicates that many health care workers underreport, or fail to report, violence for many reasons; most alarming, because they consider such conditions to be part of the job.
There is a top-to-bottom cultural assumption that violence is part of the job.”-Lisa Wolf, RN, research director for the Emergency Nurses Association
Being a victim of assault is not acceptable, and it is not within your job description.”-Sheila Wilson, RN, BSN, MPH/co-founder Stop Healthcare Violence
Your Right to a Safe Work Environment
My career as a nurse spans more than 40 years. Over that time I have witnessed and experienced violence.”
-Sheila Wilson, RN, BSN, MPH/co-founder Stop Healthcare Violence
The concept of violence against healthcare workers is unfathomably wrong on so many levels. Shouldn’t we be safe from violent threats and physical harm in the workplace? In fact, under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards, and if you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation.
Contact Stop Healthcare Violence for support, guidance and education