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Workplace Violence Conference for Health Care Employers in New England

Government, law enforcement and private sector professionals met at the 2nd Annual Workplace Violence Conference for New England Employers that was held on July 21, 2005 in Springfield, Massachusetts at Western New England College. The purpose of the conference was to help employers in New England who work in health care settings, including hospitals, doctors' offices and nursing homes develop effective means to address workplace violence. The overarching goal was to provide and facilitate a dialogue on a range of resources where workers in the field of workplace violence could obtain information, interact with peers and colleagues and learn about programs suitable for adapting to their own work circumstances. Co-sponsors of the event were the college and OSHA's Region I, Springfield Area Office. "The exceptional response to last year's conference showed that New England employers are vitally concerned about workplace violence," said Ronald E. Morin, area director for OSHA in Springfield. "Much of the feedback we received over the past year came from health care employers seeking information and guidance on protecting their employees against possible workplace violence."

The conference featured presentations from representatives of OSHA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.), the U.S. Postal Service, the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety, Baystate Medical Center, Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses, Massachusetts General Hospital, BHN Crisis Center of Springfield, Providence Behavioral Health Hospital and the Director of Workplace Violence Prevention, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. F.B.I. Supervisory Special Agent Eugene A. Rugala, an expert on workplace violence, was the keynote speaker. Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healy was the luncheon speaker.

Members of the Region I, Springfield Area office were instrumental in preparing for the conference. Compliance Assistance Specialist, Walter Cienaski, created the manual, and Team Leader Nelson Barnes organized the conference presentations and logistics. The F.B.I. provided each conference participant with its manual, Workplace Violence: Issues in Response, in hard copy and on a CD. OSHA staff made and distributed copies of the Workplace Violence Resource Manual that it had provided to Region I's Area Offices for their internal use and reference. This manual is a 3-ring binder that contains literature available from OSHA and from a wide range of other sources (e.g., the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime). The information is also provided on a CD that is included in the binder. Another active supporter of this conference was the Massachusetts Consultation Program, whose staff located speakers from within the Commonwealth and assisted in facilitating and publicizing the conference.

According to Ron Morin about 140 people attended the conference; many of them made insightful comments and asked perceptive questions during the question and answer periods. The networking of the participants during breaks and at lunch proved to be a highlight of the conference. To date, informal feedback indicates that the attendees made numerous contacts with each other. At this point, the managers in Region 1 are in the process of selecting a different geographical location within the region to sponsor the 3rd Annual Conference to better serve members of the public - especially smaller businesses - that could not travel to the Springfield area.

For more information on the Workplace Violence Conference, contact Ron Morin.

As of September 2005.

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