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Course 776 - Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Safety and Health Training

Training and education ensure all staff are aware of potential security hazards and how to protect themselves and their coworkers through established policies and procedures.

employee training
Frequent training can reduce the likelihood of being assaulted.

Training for All Employees

Every employee should understand the concept of "universal precautions for violence"— that is, that violence should be expected but can be avoided or mitigated through preparation. Frequent training also can reduce the likelihood of being assaulted.

Employees who may face safety and security hazards should receive formal instruction on the specific hazards associated with the unit or job and facility. This includes information on the types of injuries or problems identified in the facility and the methods to control the specific hazards. It also includes instructions to limit physical interventions in workplace altercations whenever possible, unless enough staff or emergency response teams and security personnel are available. In addition, all employees should be trained to behave compassionately toward coworkers when an incident occurs.

The training program should involve all employees, including supervisors and managers.

New and reassigned employees should receive an initial orientation before being assigned their job duties. Visiting staff, such as physicians, should receive the same training as permanent staff. Qualified trainers should instruct at the comprehension level appropriate for the staff. Effective training programs should involve role playing, simulations and drills.

Employees should receive required training annually. In large institutions, refresher programs may be needed more frequently, perhaps monthly or quarterly, to effectively reach and inform all employees.

Training Topics

Training topics may include management of assaultive behavior, professional assault-response training, police assault-avoidance programs or personal safety training such as how to prevent and avoid assaults.

A combination of training programs may be used, depending on the severity of the risk.

  • The workplace violence prevention policy;
  • Risk factors that cause or contribute to assaults;
  • Policies and procedures for documenting patients' or clients' change in behavior;
  • The location, operation, and coverage of safety devices such as alarm systems, along with the required maintenance schedules and procedures;
  • Early recognition of escalating behavior or recognition of warning signs or situations that may lead to assaults;
  • Ways to recognize, prevent or diffuse volatile situations or aggressive behavior, manage anger and appropriately use medications;
  • Ways to deal with hostile people other than patients and clients, such as relatives and visitors;
  • Proper use of safe rooms-areas where staff can find shelter from a violent incident;
  • A standard response action plan for violent situations, including the availability of assistance, response to alarm systems and communication procedures;
  • Self-defense procedures where appropriate;
  • Progressive behavior control methods and when and how to apply restraints properly and safety when necessary;
  • Ways to protect oneself and coworkers, including use of the "buddy system";
  • Policies and procedures for reporting and recordkeeping;
  • Policies and procedures for obtaining medical care, trauma-informed care, counseling, workers' compensation or legal assistance after a violent episode or injury.

Training for Supervisors and Managers

Supervisors and managers need to learn to recognize high-risk situations, so they can ensure that employees are not placed in assignments that compromise their safety. They also need training to ensure that they encourage employees to report incidents.

Supervisors and managers should learn how to reduce security hazards and ensure that employees receive appropriate training. Following training, supervisors and managers should be able to recognize a potentially hazardous situation and to make any necessary changes in the physical plant, patient care treatment program and staffing policy and procedures to reduce or eliminate the hazards.

U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Finds Hospital Employees Exposed to Workplace Violence Hazards

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, CO - OSHA has cited a Behavioral Healthcare System based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado - for failing to protect employees from violence in the workplace. The company faces penalties of $11,934.

OSHA opened an investigation at the acute psychiatric treatment facility after receiving a complaint of workplace violence in October 2018. Investigators found numerous documented incidents of workplace violence that resulted in injuries to employees. OSHA issued one serious citation for failing to implement adequate measures to protect employees from workplace violence hazards. For more information, visit OSHA News Release - Region 8 April 22, 2019

Training for Security Personnel

Security personnel need specific training from the hospital or clinic, including the psychological components of handling aggressive and abusive clients, types of disorders and ways to handle aggression and defuse hostile situations.

The training program should also include an evaluation. At least annually, the team or coordinator responsible for the program should review its content, methods and the frequency of training. Program evaluation may involve supervisor and employee interviews, testing and observing and reviewing reports of behavior of individuals in threatening situations.

Case Report

UMC Brackenridge in Austin, Texas, realized that getting everyone to practice high reliability safety behaviors would not come easy. After all, it would require associates to be prepared to speak up and say to a colleague, or even a superior, “Excuse me, I feel at-risk for violence.”

Even though 100 percent of associates had received high reliability safety training, the hospital realized that it would need to do more. To help drive this practice throughout the organization, the hospital identified a select group of associates who showed a passion and interest in safety. These employees became "Safety Coaches" and were given additional training to equip them with the skills to create alignment and build consensus.

The Safety Coaches meet regularly to discuss situations, share ideas, and learn from each other. UMC Brackenridge credits its Safety Coach initiative with fostering an environment where every employee is empowered to intervene in a non-threatening, non-judgmental manner, and to question any other employee about a behavior, process, or procedure.



Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. What does the concept of “universal precautions for violence” mean?

2. _____ can reduce the likelihood of being assaulted.

3. Training should include instructions to limit physical interventions in workplace altercations.

4. All employees should be trained to behave _____ toward coworkers when an incident occurs.

5. How often should a training program be evaluated by employers?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.