Violence in hospitals usually results from patients and occasionally from their family members who feel frustrated, vulnerable, and out of control.
Violence against pharmacists differs from violence experienced by other healthcare workers. Increasingly, pharmacists face violence from robberies at their workplace.
Across the United States, reports of pharmacy robberies specifically related to the theft of OxyContin and Vicodin have been reported. These prescription pain killers may be used for the robber’s own addiction or sold on the street for a significant amount of money.
OSHA recommends employers establish and maintain a violence prevention program as part of their facilities safety and health program. The program could include:
The effects of violence can range in intensity and include the following:
Violence may also have negative organizational outcomes such as low worker morale, increased job stress, increased worker turnover, reduced trust of management and co-workers, and a hostile working environment.
A written program for job safety and security, incorporated into the organizations overall safety and health program, offers an effective approach for larger organizations. In smaller establishments, the program does not need to be written or heavily documented to be satisfactory.
Clear goals and objectives are needed to prevent workplace violence. It should be suitable for the size and complexity of the workplace operation and adaptable to specific situations in each establishment. Employers should communicate information about the prevention program and startup date to all employees.
At a minimum, workplace violence prevention programs should:
The following five main components of any effective safety and health program also apply to the prevention of workplace violence:
One important screening tool is an employee questionnaire or survey to get employees' ideas on the potential for violent incidents and to identify or confirm the need for improved security measures. Detailed baseline screening surveys can help pinpoint tasks that put employees at risk.
Periodic surveys—conducted at least annually or whenever operations change or incidents of workplace violence occur—help identify new or previously unnoticed risk factors and deficiencies or failures in work practices, procedures or controls. Also, the surveys help assess the effects of changes in the work processes. The periodic review process should also include feedback and follow-up.
Independent reviewers, such as law enforcement or security specialists and insurance safety auditors, may offer advice to strengthen programs. These experts can also provide fresh perspectives to improve a violence prevention program.
The team or coordinator should periodically inspect the workplace and evaluate employee tasks to identify hazards, conditions, operations and situations that could lead to violence.
To find areas requiring further evaluation, the team or coordinator should:
Post-incident response and evaluation are essential to an effective violence prevention program. All workplace violence programs should provide comprehensive treatment for employees who are victimized personally or may be traumatized by witnessing a workplace violence incident.
Injured staff should receive prompt treatment and psychological evaluation whenever an assault takes place, regardless of its severity. Provide the injured person(s) transportation to medical care, if it is not available onsite.
Victims of workplace violence suffer a variety of consequences in addition to their actual physical injuries. These may include:
For more information on preventing workplace violence in the healthcare setting, see OSHAcademy course 776 Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare.
Pharmacists may be exposed to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as carpel tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and tenosynovitis from activities that involve repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, awkward postures or contact stress, such as opening/closing bottle lids.
The work of pharmacists generally consists of computer workstation tasks, such as entering and verification of medication orders. Technicians also carry, lift, push, and pull materials, which can contribute to both chronic and acute injuries.
In the next tab, we'll take a closer look at these types of injuries.
Acute injuries are those that occur immediately after a single traumatic event, such as lifting a heavy box of supplies and hurting your lower back or slipping on a wet floor and twisting your ankle.
Chronic injuries occur over time as a result of repeated overuse of a certain body part. Symptoms can develop in the affected part and may lead to recurring discomfort. Here are some examples of chronic injuries:
Here are some possible solutions to help prevent MSDs in a pharmacy setting:
For general information on preventing ergonomic injuries, please see OSHAcademy course 711 Introduction to Ergonomics.
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