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Workplace Violence in the Social Services Industry

Social service workers are at an elevated risk to become victims of workplace violence. Their close proximity to people with mental health problems or histories of violent actions means they require similar protections granted to firefighters, police officers, and prison employees. In Nevada, employers who fail to protect their employees from known hazards can be held liable for the injuries and deaths that occur as a result of their negligence.

Workplace Violence in Healthcare Facilities & Social Services

Healthcare and social service workers are four times more likely to suffer workplace violence injuries than those in other private industries. Nationwide, the rate of violent acts against healthcare and social service workers is larger than all other industries combined. Approximately 70% of all workplace violence incidents occur in healthcare and social service settings.  Providers have a responsibility to their employees, patients, and visitors to proactively protect individuals against these violent acts. From 2009 to 2013, more than 730,000 instances of workplace violence were recorded against nurses, doctors, administrative aides, security personnel, and social service workers employed in the sector.

The responsibility of healthcare and social service providers includes reviewing patient records and taking preventative steps to protect workers against hazardous individuals. It includes implementing security response procedures and limiting access to the facility via locking doors, on-site security personnel, etc.

Strengthening OSHA Standards

In November 2018, legislators began debating HR 7141 which would strengthen protections for healthcare and social service workers. However, more than a year later and the legislation remains within the Subcommittee on Health of the Education and the Workforce, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means Committee. If passed, the legislation would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to establish stronger workplace violence prevention standards within the healthcare and social services sectors. 

Documenting Workplace Violence

Nurses, doctors, administrative personnel, and others responsible for providing healthcare and social services should thoroughly document the extent of their injuries and any communications with their employer. Medical records, insurance claims forms, police reports, and other supporting evidence can establish the extent of an employer’s liability, and the liability of the individual responsible for causing the injuries. Individuals must comply with all required reporting requirements including filing reports and claims within the timeframes specified under state statutes.    

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