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Healthcare Workers at Increased Risk of Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is a growing problem around the country and in Ohio.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reports that there are about two million incidents of workplace violence nationwide each year, but the actual number may be even higher—many incidents of workplace violence go unreported. On-the-job violence is also one of the leading causes of fatal workplace injury.

While violence can occur in any location and any field, Ohio healthcare workers face more danger than the average worker. Healthcare workers generally are nearly four times as likely as the average worker to become victims of workplace violence.

For those in certain healthcare sectors, the risk is much higher. The rate of workplace violence among social workers is more than 7 times the average across all industries. The threat to nurses is even greater: the rate of violence against nurses is more than 12 times the private sector average.

Violence against Health Care Workers

According to OSHA, about 80% of violence against healthcare workers is perpetrated by patients, 21% of registered nurses and nursing students report having been physically assaulted. An in-depth study conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association revealed that more than 12% of full-time emergency nurses surveyed had been victims of physical violence within a 7-day period. Types of violence reported in that survey included:

  • Biting
  • Choking or strangling
  • Grabbing or pulling
  • Hair pulling
  • Punching or slapping
  • Throwing objects
  • Pinching
  • Pushing, shoving, or throwing
  • Sexual assault
  • Scratching
  • Intentionally spitting, voiding, or vomiting on
  • Stabbing

Certain health care sectors face even greater risks. For example, nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides lost most than 7,000 work days to injuries sustained through violence on the job. Psychiatric aides were by far the most likely to suffer injuries necessitating time off work—about 10 times as likely as the next group.

Next Steps for Victims of Workplace Violence

Report the Incident

The first step after facing violence on the job should always be to report the incident. Reporting workplace violence makes you and your co-workers safer, and creating a record helps to protect your rights should you require time off work or medical care.

Seek Medical Attention

Next, seek medical care if warranted. Workers in high-activity, important fields like health care may be reluctant to step away from their duties to have their injuries checked out in real time, but a small investment of time immediately after an attack may help to avoid more extensive lost time later.

Consult an Attorney

Finally, if your working environment remains unsafe or you need compensation for lost work time or medical expenses, consult an attorney experienced in handling workplace violence cases.

Liability for Workplace Violence

Legal responsibility for costs associated with workplace violence can be complicated. In Ohio, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage for employees, either through the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) or through self-insurance. However, not every injury that occurs on an employer’s premises or at a job site is covered by workers’ compensation.

Typically, attacks by patients occur in the course of employment and will be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. However, the analysis may not be as straightforward when the aggressor is a co-worker. Further, a small but significant percentage of violent acts in the workplace has nothing to do with the job or the employer. Rather, they are perpetrated by partners, family members and others who have chosen to confront the victim at work.

It may be difficult for an injured worker to determine who is responsible for medical expenses and other costs. The sooner you get knowledgeable guidance after a workplace injury, the better. If you’ve been the victim of workplace violence, you can schedule a free consultation right now by calling 216.861.4211 or filling out our work injury contact form.

The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation

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