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New California Regulation Targeting Workplace Violence Prevention In The Healthcare Industry Effective April 1, 2017

Published by on June 16, 2017

The new healthcare workplace safety prevention regulation has extensive requirements that will make compliance very challenging.

The California Occupational Safety and Health Division (Cal/OSHA) recently passed a new General Industry Safety Order, Title 8, Section 3342, entitled “Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care,” which seeks to protect healthcare workers from workplace violence. This new healthcare workplace safety regulation became effective April 1, 2017.

The new regulation applies to almost all healthcare facilities and medical groups, including outpatient medical offices and clinics, home health care and home-based hospice, paramedic and medical services, including paramedic and emergency services provided by firefighters and other emergency responders, drug treatment programs, senior care centers, nursing homes, and retirement homes. Specifically, if your facility provides diagnosis, treatment, convalescence, or rehabilitation (including for pregnancy) and has the capacity to admit more than 24 people, you are a covered entity.

Every covered employer must keep a “violent incident log” listing all incidents, post-incident response and investigation of a workplace violence injury, based on information from the employees who experienced the workplace violence. Covered employers must also identify, evaluate, and correct (if necessary) all workplace violence hazards (and maintain records of such evaluation).

By April 1, 2018, every covered employer must have established, implemented and maintained a written Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (WVPP) for each unit, service, and operation of the entity. This means that different units or departments at a healthcare employer may have separate WVPPs that identify and evaluate different workplace hazards. For example, an emergency room will have different potential workplace violence hazards than a labor and delivery department. To comply with the regulation, the WVPP must include the following:

  • Names or job titles of persons responsible for implementing the plan;
  • Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and their representatives;
  • Procedures to coordinate the implementation of the program with the continent or contingent workforce or employees of other employers;
  • Anti-retaliation statement;
  • Procedures to coordinate supervisory and management roles with requirements under the IIPP standard;
  • A central coordination procedure;
  • Procedures for responding to reports of workplace violence;
  • Procedures to communicate with employees about workplace violence matters;
  • Procedures to develop and provide training;
  • Assessment procedures to identify and evaluate risk factors;
  • Procedures to identify and evaluate patient-specific risk factors and visitor assessment;
  • Engineering and work practice controls; and
  • Procedures for post-incident response and investigation.

The new law also requires California healthcare employers to train all employees, including temporary employees, who work in their facilities pursuant to section 3342(f). The training must include an explanation of the workplace violence prevention plan, how to recognize the potential for violence, factors contributing to the escalation of violence, strategies to avoid physical harm, and how to recognize alerts or other warnings about emergencies. Employers must conduct an initial training when they first implement a WVPP. Employers must also train newly hired employees and employees that it newly assigns “to perform duties for which the training required in this subsection was not previously provided.” If a healthcare employer chooses to conduct this training online, it must meet all the subject-matter requirements and provide for interactive questions to be answered within one business day. Training records should be retained for at least one year.

Welter Insight

The new healthcare workplace safety prevention regulation has extensive requirements that will make compliance very challenging. Moreover, it is expected that Cal/OSHA will actively enforce the regulation so healthcare employers should focus on compliance with the new law. California healthcare employers should be actively preparing Workplace Violence Prevention Plans now if they have not done so already.

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