From February to June this year, healthcare workers at a medical center were victims of violent patients in eight incidents. Now OSHA has issued violations and fines.
The incidents took place at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ, from Feb. 22 through June 12, 2015. The workplace violence included:
- a nurse suffering a cut and bruises when attempting to stop an attack on a patient
- patients barricading workers in a room
- patients threatening workers
- patients exposing workers to bloodborne pathogens, and
- several employees being bit, punched and kicked by patients.
OSHA issued one General Duty Clause citation for failing to keep the workplace free of hazards and one repeat citation for incorrectly recording workplace injuries on the OSHA 300A form. Fines total $13,600.
Bergen has requested an informal conference with OSHA’s area director after receiving the citations.
“Bergen Regional Medical Center’s management recognized workplace hazards, but lacked adequate procedures to prevent employee exposure,” said Lisa Levy, director of OSHA’s area office. “With so many incidents, it’s clear that this facility’s workplace violence program is ineffective and should be improved immediately to protect employees and ensure a safe workplace.”
In June, OSHA expanded enforcement at hospitals and nursing homes to focus on workplace violence which is one of the most common causes of injuries among healthcare workers.
The hospital is owned by Bergen County and is leased to a private operator. The lease runs out in 2017, according to NJ.com.
The Bergen County executive appointed a committee earlier this summer to recommend what to do with the hospital once the lease expires.
County Executive Jim Tedesco released a statement regarding the OSHA fines:
“I have called upon the hospital’s management to explain and address these violations immediately. I am scheduling a meeting with hospital management and employee representatives. I expect hospital management to present a detailed action plan to strengthen safety and security measures at the hospital to better protect both staff and patients moving forward.”
The facility is one of the nation’s largest hospitals.
While OSHA has raised questions about Bergen’s employee safety, the facility was recently found to be tops in patient safety, according to Consumer Reports.
Bergen received the highest ratings in preventing hospital acquired methicilllin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. Consumer Reports analyzed data from more than 3,000 hospitals in the U.S. to determine the rankings.