GAINESVILLE, FL – A Gainesville psychiatric and substance abuse hospital has implemented a series of changes to their safety protocols after the U.S. Department of Labor cited the facility for failing to protect employees from workplace violence after a series of incidents left employees with serious injuries.

An investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration at Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics Inc. – operating as UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital – found employees were exposed to serious injuries such as bone fractures and concussions caused by altercations with patients.

OSHA cited the hospital for a serious violation for failing to provide a place of employment free from recognized health and safety hazards which caused or was likely to cause serious physical harm or death. The agency proposed a $14,502 penalty.

“As incidents occur or a pattern of violent behavior is established, employers need to be vigilant about their controls and policies to address physical threats,” said OSHA Area Office Director Scott Tisdale in Jacksonville, Florida. “The safety protocols that Shands agreed to implement can greatly reduce incidents of workplace violence and improve working conditions for their employees.”

Shands Teaching Hospital agreed to:

Implement mandatory workplace violence training for all employees with direct interactions with patients with a known history of violence.
Provide unit employees with information about patients’ recent history and their potential for violence during admission, before all shift changes and in post-incident debriefings to increase staff awareness.
Ensure their workplace violence program includes employee input and participation to assess hazards, controls, prevention strategies, employee education, and incident reporting and investigation.
Provide employees with personal panic alarms to summon urgent and reliable assistance. Shands will also provide training on the equipment’s use, and will inspect, test and maintain it to make sure the equipment always works.
Review physical environments in all of the facility’s wings to make sure plexiglass barriers and windows protect workers and make needed improvements. The hospital will also remove items that could be used as a weapon or to obstruct views of the wing, or to access the nurses’ station.
Learn more about OSHA.

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