Safety and OSHA News

OSHA uses general duty clause to issue workplace violence fine

As Wal-Mart fights an OSHA general duty clause (GDC) fine about retail crowds, the agency has issued another citation under the catch-all regulation involving workplace violence.

OSHA cited Danbury Hospital in Connecticut with one serious violation of the GDC for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury to workers. In this case, the hazard is employees being injured by violent patients. The fine: $6,300.

OSHA says it identified several instances during the past 18 months in which employees in the hospital’s psychiatric ward, emergency ward and general medical floors were injured by violent patients. The agency’s report cites 25 cases in the past five years in which hospital employees lost workdays or were put on restricted duty after being injured by patients.

Police say in March, a patient, Stanley Lupienski, shot nurse Andy Hull three times. Lupienski is charged with first-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, illegal discharge of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit. Hull hasn’t returned to work at the hospital.

OSHA says its investigation was prompted by worker complaints. The president of Danbury Nurses Union, Unit 47, Mary Consoli, says the union complained to OSHA.

Danbury Hospital says it doesn’t agree with all the details of OSHA’s report, but it won’t contest the citation. The hospital says it’s already made changes to its security system.

OSHA recommended the hospital create a written violence prevention program that includes hazard assessment, prevention strategies, staff training, incident reporting and periodic review.

OSHA’s website notes that there is no regulation regarding workplace violence, but the GDC can apply.

OSHA’s guidelines for preventing workplace violence for health care and social workers can be found here.

Did OSHA make the right decision to cite the hospital for a GDC violation involving workplace violence? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below. Also, take our poll on OSHA’s use of the GDC on our home page.

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  1. Absolutely! If an employer has an emergency action plan or emergency preparedness program, then a fold in workplace violence policy/plan only makes sense. Especially when employees regularly deal with non employees(Customers, vendors, public). We may be able to train/prepare our employees, but non employees actions are generally where the violence stems. Bottom line, a hospital should have necessary safeguards, training, security personnel, etc simply due to the heightened emotional state of nearly all non employees it interacts with.

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