When most New Yorkers think of dangerous professions, they may think of logging, mining or construction. While these industries frequently experience high numbers of work-related accidents, workplace safety has drastically decreased in the health care field. Workplace violence has risen significantly, leaving nurses, attendants and social service workers fearing for their lives. Fortunately, there are ways in which employers can identify risk factors and provide safer alternatives for their employees.
There are two main reasons why workers in the healthcare field are seeing an uptick in acts of workplace violence. First of all, firearms are becoming more and more accessible. On top of that, two typically violent classifications of people -- criminals and mentally ill patients -- are often treated at hospitals.
Employers should take the time to identify potential threats and find ways to create barriers and quickly assist employees who feel threatened. Nurses' stations should be equipped with bulletproof glass for added protection. Employees should have access to lockable doors that they can hide in when they feel threatened by a patient.
Alarm systems and panic buttons can help scare off threats while alerting security personnel to safety issues. Metal detectors can identify patients who are in possession of guns and knives and keep them off the premises. Video cameras should also be used 24/7 in the most frequented areas.
All employees have the right to work in a safe environment, so it is imperative that companies focus on workplace safety. Although some fields are more prone to accidents than others, it is important for employers and employees alike to do their part to prevent accidents and acts of violence.
Source: OSHA.gov, "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers," accessed on Dec. 12, 2014