Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Social Service Settings

Healthcare, Property & Casualty, Risk, Senior Living & Social Services

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Workplace Violence_SLSS

From harassment and intimidation to physical assaults and shootings, workplace violence is a major concern for employers nationwide. Workplace violence can involve employees, clients, patients, residents, customers, and visitors; and statistically, businesses that provide healthcare and social services have a higher risk of experiencing these types of incidents. Recognizing this, regulatory agencies hold healthcare and social service businesses accountable to manage their risk.


1.  Leadership commitment and employee participation:

Formally recognize that all forms of workplace violence – caused by either persons or animals – are safety and health hazards that require a team approach and dedicated resources to prevent.

2.  Work setting analysis and hazard identification:

Involve leaders and employees familiar with your operations to identify and assess existing and potential risks. Use measurable tools such as incident records analyses, job hazard analyses, and employee/client feedback surveys to identify areas of concern. M3 risk managers can also assist you in identifying safety and security risks within your organization.

3.  Hazard prevention and control:

Based on your analysis of the work setting, take appropriate steps to prevent and control identified hazards. This often involves a variety of methods including:  eliminating operational practices or substituting them with safer options; physically changing the environment to remove or lessen the impact of hazards; developing policies, procedures, and care plans that define and communicate expectations of safe practices; and providing education, training, personal protective equipment, and post-incident procedures and services. A crucial piece of preventing future incidents is immediate, thorough investigation and root cause analysis of all threats and violent incidents.

4.  Safety and health training:

Regularly train all employees on:

  • your company’s workplace violence prevention policy
  • policies and procedures for reporting and documenting resident or client change in behavior
  • location and operation of alarm systems, required maintenance schedules and procedures
  • early recognition of escalating behavior and warning signs of a hostile situation or impending violent act
  • ways to prevent, diffuse, or de-escalate anger or aggressive behavior
  • emergency action plans for violent situations, including availability of assistance, response to alarm systems, and communication procedures
  • policies, procedures for reporting and recordkeeping of incidents

Additional training should be provided to supervisor and management personnel on how to recognize high-risk situations and reduce safety hazards.

5.  Recordkeeping and program evaluation:

As part of your formal quality assurance program, keep accurate records of injuries, illnesses, incidents, assaults, hazards, corrective actions, patient histories, and training.  Evaluate trends and the effectiveness of safety and security controls. Share safety initiatives and outcomes as appropriate with all stakeholders.

The risk of violence in healthcare and social service settings should be addressed and managed on an ongoing basis. M3 can help!  Contact your M3 Account Executive or Risk Manager for more information and assistance with program development.



– OSHA. Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.  2016.
– BLS.  USDL-17-1667 News Release:  National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016.  12/19/2017.
– BLS.  Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities Data Profiles.  2016.

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