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Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare

Workers in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings face significant risks of workplace violence. Many factors contribute to this risk, including working directly with people who have a history of violence or who may be delirious or under the influence of drugs. From 2002 to 2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (those requiring days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in healthcare than in private industry on average. In fact, healthcare accounts for nearly as many serious violent injuries as all other industries combined. Many more assaults or threats go unreported. Workplace violence comes at a high cost; however, it can be prevented. OSHA has compiled a suite of resources to help you build and implement a comprehensive workplace violence program in your healthcare facility.

The strategies and tools presented here are intended to complement OSHA's Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers*, updated in 2015. The Guidelines describe the five components of an effective workplace violence prevention program, with extensive examples.

The products below: Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Understanding the Challenge*, presents some estimates of the extent of the problem from various sources; Preventing Workplace Violence: A Road Map for Healthcare Facilities* expands on OSHA's guidelines by presenting case studies and successful strategies from a variety of healthcare facilities; and Workplace Violence Prevention and Related Goals: The Big Picture* explains how you can achieve synergies between workplace violence prevention, broader safety and health objectives, and a "culture of safety."

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines workplace violence as "violent acts, including physical assaults and threats of assault, directed toward persons at work or on duty." Even if no physical injury takes place, threats, abuse, hostility, harassment, and other forms of verbal violence can cause significant psychological trauma and stress—and potentially escalate to physical violence.

Related OSHA Safety and Health Topics

Tools & Resources

Click on the products below to learn more about worker safety in hospitals.

  • Workplace Violence in Healthcare: Understanding the Challenge

    The problem of workplace violence

    An executive summary for hospital administrators and others who want to learn more about the prevalence of workplace violence in healthcare, associated costs, key risk factors, and what organizations can do to address the problem.

    PDF Download*

  • Road map - Learn from the leaders

    Road map - Learn from the leaders

    This "road map" uses real-life examples from healthcare organizations to illustrate the components of a workplace violence prevention program. Learn how other healthcare facilities have addressed this challenge and discover resources that are available to help your organization develop and implement your own program.

    PDF Download*

  • How does workplace violence prevention fit with other goals?

    How does workplace violence prevention fit with other goals?

    You don’t need to tackle workplace violence in isolation. Learn how preventing workplace violence can go hand-in-hand with strategies that your organization might already be using for compliance, accreditation, worker safety and quality patient care.

    PDF Download*


Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Standards and Guidance at (202) 693-1950 for assistance accessing DOC, EPS, GIF, MP4, PDF, PPT or XLS documents.

*These files are provided for downloading.

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