As of April 1, 2017, California’s new General Industry Safety Order, entitled “Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care” took effect. The safety order, promulgated by California’s Division of Occupational Safety & Health Standards, requires that health care providers implement workplace violence prevention programs, as well as training programs for employees. It also requires new recordkeeping programs to monitor and report most incidents of workplace violence.
Broad Coverage for Those in Health Care
The safety order applies quite broadly to a number of types of facilities. Covered are “health facilities” – i.e., "any facility, place, or building that is organized, maintained, and operated for the diagnosis, care, prevention, or treatment of human illness, physical or mental, including convalescence and rehabilitation and including care during and after pregnancy, or for any one or more of these purposes, for one or more persons, to which the persons are admitted for a 24-hour stay or longer.”
The terms of the safety order would appear to cover:
• Outpatient medical offices and medical clinics
• Paramedic and emergency medical services
• Home health care and home-based hospice
• Drug treatment programs
• Mobile clinics and dispensing operations
• Ancillary health care operations
Workplace Violence Plans
As noted above, the safety order requires all covered employers to implement and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention plan. Any such plan must:
• Be in writing
• Be effective at all times
• Be in effect in every unit, service, or operation and be specific to the hazards and corrective measures of each such unit, service, or operation
• Be available to all affected employees at all times
Covered Employers Must Maintain a Log
The safety order requires covered employers to keep a log that tracks each incident, post-incident response, and workplace violence injury investigation. Generally speaking, the log must include:
The date and specific location of the incident;
A description of the incident itself;
Information related to the consequences of the action, such as whether the employee required and received medical treatment; and
The name, title, phone number, and email address of the person completing the log entry.
The employer must also include within the log a classification of the “perpetrator.” For example, was the perpetrator a patient, a client, a family member, friend of the patient, a stranger with criminal intent, etc.?
Plans Must Be Communicated to Employees
Covered employers must communicate the workplace violence plan to all affected employees. Such communications should clearly identify how an employee is to report a violent incident, threat, or other workplace violence concern. Employers must make it clear that any communication regarding workplace violence can be made without fear of reprisal. Employers are also required to advise employees as to how the employer will investigate employee concerns and how it will inform employees as to the results of any such investigations.
Finally, the plans must not exist in a vacuum – existing employees must be trained and procedures must be put in place to train new hires, as well.
Compliance Begins Now!
All health care employers will want to review the new safety order and determine how, if at all, they are covered by its provisions. Plans that deal effectively with workplace violence can be technical and complex. Health care employers should consult with experienced attorneys who can help them comply with the new rules and regulations. Employers on the periphery of health care may also want to implement workplace violence plans inasmuch as the rules may be expanded in the future.
CKB VIENNA LLP: Experienced Legal Counsel
For many years now, CKB VIENNA LLP has represented health care businesses as they maneuver through the complex commercial world in California. We stay current on all the rules and orders that affect California employers, and we can provide guidance as to how your health care business or other entity can comply. We are experts in employment law and stand ready to guide you. If Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board has contacted your business regarding an alleged violation, we have the skill and experience to represent you in an aggressive manner if necessary. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Contact us by telephone – 909.980.1040 – or complete our online form.