People have always considered hospitals to be safe places for patients, visitors, and health care workers, but this may no longer be the case – especially for health care workers. According to recent statistics, 16,890 workers were intentionally injured by another person at work, and a shocking 70 percent of those individuals worked in the health care and social services professions.

Illinois, like many other states, has taken it upon itself to reduce the risk of violence against health care workers. During the spring 2018 session, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed the “Health Care Prevention Act” (“HCPA”). In 2019, Illinois hospitals will be required to comply with workplace violence training and safety requirements.

The HCPA outlines specific responsibilities and procedures for health care providers to ensure the safety of health care workers. It requires health care providers to implement a workplace violence prevention program with clear goals and objectives for preventing workplace violence that complies with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) guidelines.

In order to comply with the HCPA, health care providers should consider including the following in their violence prevention programs:

  • New policies and procedures to prevent workplace violence
  • Assessment of workplace violence-related hazards
  • Reviews of all workplace violence incidents to identify corrective actions
  • Implementation of protective equipment such as alarm systems and barriers for staff
  • Training all employees on workplace violence prevention and performing drills
  • Recordkeeping of workplace violence incidents and program evaluation

In addition to the above, the HCPA requires health care providers to post notices stating that verbal aggression will not be tolerated and physical assault will be reported to law enforcement. In the event that a workplace violence incident is initiated by a patient or visitor, employers will be required to offer immediate post-incident services to the health care worker who is directly involved. Furthermore, employers cannot discourage health care workers from contacting law enforcement or filing a police report due to a workplace violence incident.

OSHA encourages employers to develop additional methods as necessary to protect all employees from violence in the workplace.  If you need help developing or evaluating your work place violence prevention programs, please contact our experienced OSHA attorneys today. Or, learn more about our OSHA legal services for the health care industry.