Today more than 5 million U.S. hospital workers from many occupations perform a wide variety of duties. They are exposed to many safety and health hazards, including violence. Recent data indicate that hospital workers are at high risk for experiencing violence in the workplace.
Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve workers, clients, customers and visitors. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reported healthcare and social assistance workers were the victims of approximately 11,370 assaults by persons; a greater than 13% increase over the number of such assaults reported in 2009. Almost 19% of these assaults occurred in nursing and residential care facilities alone. Unfortunately, many more incidents probably go unreported.
Several studies indicate that violence often takes place during times of high activity and interaction with patients, such as at meal times and during visiting hours and patient transportation. Assaults may occur when service is denied, when a patient is involuntarily admitted, or when a health care worker attempts to set limits on eating, drinking, or tobacco or alcohol use.
The purpose of this course is to increase worker and employer awareness of the risk factors for violence in hospitals and to provide strategies for reducing exposure to these factors.
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1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2013). Safety and Health Management Systems: A Road Map for Hospitals. Retrieved from:
2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2014a). Workplace Violence. Retrieved from:
3.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2002). Violence Occupational Hazards in Hospitals. Retrieved from: