Danbury Hospital has been cited for failing to provide employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration began investigating in January 2010 after workers complained and found several instances, within the last 18 months, in which employees in the hospital’s psychiatric ward, emergency ward and general medical floors were injured by violent patients.
Over the past five-year, there have been about 25 cases in which hospital employees lost workdays or were put on restricted duty after being injured by patients, according to the DOL. The department found that the hospital’s workplace violence program was incomplete and ineffective at preventing these incidents.
“This citation points to the need for the hospital to develop a comprehensive, continuous and effective program that will proactively evaluate, identify, prevent and minimize situations and conditions that place workers in harm’s way,” Marthe Kent, OSHA’s New England regional administrator, said.
OSHA said the hospital can address the situation by:
- Creating a stand alone written violence prevention program for the entire hospital that includes a hazard/threat assessment, controls and prevention strategies, staff training and education, incident reporting and investigation, and periodic review of the program.
- Ensuring that the program addresses specific actions employees should take in the event of an incident and proper reporting procedures.
- Ensuring that security staff members trained to deal with aggressive behavior are readily and immediately available to render assistance.
- Ensuring that all patients receiving a psychiatric consultation are screened for a potential history of violence.
- Using a system that flags a patient’s chart any time there is a history or act of violence and training staff to understand the system.
- Putting in place administrative controls so that employees are not alone with potentially violent patients in the psychiatric ward.
The citation carries with it a proposed fine of $6,300.
The hospital has 15 business to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.