OSHA Updates Guidance For Protecting Vulnerable Employees From Workplace Violence

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

Medical professional with gun pointed at his face.
Photo: Shutterstock.

In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assault at work. More than 70% of these assaults were in healthcare and social service settings. Healthcare and social service workers are almost four times as likely to be injured as a result of violence than the average private sector worker.

To reduce the risk, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers. The publication includes industry best practices and highlights the most effective ways to reduce the risk of violence in various healthcare and social service settings.

“It is unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones often work in fear of injury or death,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “This updated booklet will help employers implement effective measures to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards.”

The revised guidelines—which update OSHA’s 1996 and 2004 guidelines—incorporate research in the last decade into the causes of workplace violence on healthcare and social service settings, risk factors that accompany working with patients or clients who display violent behavior, and the appropriate preventive measures that can be taken, amid the variety of settings in which health care and social service employees work. The guidelines also stress the importance of developing a written workplace violence prevention program. The program should include management commitment and employee participation, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training, and recordkeeping and program evaluation.

More information on violence prevention in all workplace settings is available on OSHA’s Workplace Violence Web page.


  1. I really love what you said about how it is unacceptable that people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones have to fear violence in the work place. I had heard in the past about the important of prevent violence in the workplace, but was curious as to what a business would do to help. Perhaps there are workshops or services that could provide preventative options to help keep employees safe. Thanks for the very informative read.

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