When dealing with persons who are vulnerable, such those who are physically or mentally ill or developmentally disabled, it is natural for caregivers put their well-being ahead of their own. However, there can be times when the efforts made to keep these populations safe may put those caregivers in danger themselves. This was the determination of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) when they investigated a Pennsylvania psychiatric clinic where a gunman shot six people last year.

While OSHA recognizes the importance of patient safety, they assert that the safety of workers, and even visitors to the hospital, cannot be ignored. The hospital administration disagrees with the findings, which offered suggestions, but did not actually issue citations to the facility. The hospital is spending $10 million to upgrade security.

While the administration may disagree with OSHA, a union representing 200 Pennsylvania health care workers admits that there are concerns for employee safety. The Vice President of the union recently noted that while concerns to patient safety are dealt with immediately after an incident, action on employee concerns are often either delayed or ignored.

Some believe workplace violence is not given the attention it deserves in psychiatric facilities because of the risk of stigmatizing the mentally ill and developmentally ill as violent, when they often are not. Still, that protection cannot come at other people’s expense. The workers need to stay safe for themselves and their own families, as well as the patients they serve.

Our law firm helps victims of workplace accidents that could have been reasonably prevented.

Source: Claims Journal, “Report to OSHA: Pennsylvania Clinic Overlooks Worker Safety,” January 3, 2013