Workplace violence is a prevalent issue in society, no matter the industry. Whether it is a news headline of a tragic incident or data from years of study—such as with the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reporting that of the 5,147 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the U.S. in 2017, 458 were cases of intentional injury by another person—the issue continues to be a challenge.1
Incidence data also have revealed that in 2018, health care and social service workers were five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers, comprising 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work.
A growing issue of concern
Incidence data also have revealed that in 2018, health care and social service workers were five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers, comprising 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work.2
According to a report that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued in 2015, “Guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social service workers,” in a three-year period, the annual number of workplace assaults was between 23,540 and 25,630. Of those incidents, 70 percent to 74 percent occurred in the health care or social service settings. Moreover, assaults to health care workers comprised 10 percent to 11 percent of workplace injuries leading to time away from work.3
Some research suggests that being exposed to workplace violence can lead to the following issues:
- Less-effective patient care
- Psychological distress
- Job dissatisfaction
- High turnover
- Higher costs
To increase patient and worker safety, The Joint Commission will implement new and revised workplace violence prevention requirements that will take effect January 1, 2022.
To increase patient and worker safety, The Joint Commission will implement new and revised workplace violence prevention requirements that will take effect January 1, 2022. These requirements will be for all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals.4
The requirements aim to provide a framework to guide organizations in developing strong workplace violence prevention systems and address the following concepts:4
- Defining workplace violence, including a formal definition located in the glossary
- Establishing leadership oversight
- Conducting worksite analysis
- Developing policies and procedures for the prevention of workplace violence
- Setting standards for reporting systems, data collection, and analysis
- Creating postincident strategies
- Training and educating staff to decrease workplace violence
The TJC workplace violence prevention standards glossary now defines workplace violence as, “An act or threat occurring at the workplace that can include any of the following: verbal, nonverbal, written, or physical aggression; threatening, intimidating, harassing, or humiliating words or actions; bullying; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other behaviors of concern involving staff, licensed practitioners, patients, or visitors.”4
To create the new and revised requirements, The Joint Commission conducted an extensive literature review and public field review. It also sought guidance from the following groups:4
- A technical advisory panel of practicing clinicians from health care and academic organizations, professional associations, and health care and government sectors
- A standards review panel of representatives from organizations or professional associations who provided a “boots on the ground” point of view and insights into the practical application of the proposed standards
To help health care facilities understand the rationale behind the new requirements, an R3 Report also was published. It can be found online at https://www.jointcommission.org/standards/r3-report/r3-report-issue-30-workplace-violence-prevention-standards/.
The thoughts and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Dr. Jacobs and do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Commission or the American College of Surgeons.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Number of fatal work injuries by employee status, 2003–2017. December 18, 2018. Available at: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/cfoi_12182018.pdf. Accessed September 2, 2021.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workplace violence in healthcare, 2018. April 2020. Available at: https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/workplace-violence-healthcare-2018.htm. Accessed September 2, 2021.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Guidelines for preventing workplace violence for healthcare and social service workers. 2015. Available at: https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/osha3148.pdf. Accessed September 2, 2021.
- The Joint Commission. R3 Report. Workplace violence prevention standards. June 18, 2021. Available at: https://www.jointcommission.org/standards/r3-report/r3-report-issue-30-workplace-violence-prevention-standards/. Accessed September 2, 2021.