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Hazardous conditions in the workplace can come from many different elements. Some hazards people face at their job everyday come from falling hazards, when you’re on a ladder or at a construction site you face hazards from power tools and falling debris. Others might face chemical hazards like at a lab or a chemical waste plant. At every job though, violence in the workplace can happen anywhere. Violence can come from employee to employee, employee to supervisor, and customer/patient to employee. Violence can be a big a threat in the workplace. “Each year in the United States, approximately 1000 people die because of violence in the workplace, and more than 20,000 nonfatal violent incidents result in missed days of work” (Racette K, 2001, p. 329)
In a hospital violence can occur very quickly. Hospitals in 2018 are fairly safe. A lot of hospitals have metal detectors and police officers on stand-by twenty-four seven. While this is the case in some hospitals not all have these luxuries, and all hospitals have many unrestricted areas of movement for patients and their family. Stress can also play a factor in violence in the workplace. Whether it is an employee who is stressed because of family issues or a patient’s family member who cannot cope with the traumatic crisis in their lives, stress can lead to anyone becoming violent.
Another factor that can contribute to violence are drugs. It is common knowledge that a hospital has many drugs and while almost every hospital keeps their drugs secured at all times, it does not always deter violent actions. These are just some reasons why violence can occur in a hospital.Sometimes it can be very difficult to identify someone who will become violent. Employees which become violent will be easier to identify then patients. Coworkers who become violent will typically have a change in their normal attitude usually more negative. Some employees might talk about their problems at home and bring them to the workplace.
Coworkers who are social most of the time will be quiet, patients that tend to be violent might be swearing and shouting. They might have clenched jaw and a piercing stare and sweating heavily.To protect against violence, hospitals use some strategies that are not always seen as violence prevention. Simple prevention includes the use of metal detectors and security guards. Bag searches can also be used to prevent weapons and drugs. Hospitals are making waiting rooms spacious and more comfortable to prevent patients and family members from getting anxious and irritated. People who have to wait in a waiting room with uncomfortable seating and small space can make people angry and violent. Hospitals should use employee safe rooms which can be used for employees during a violent outbreak. Safe rooms should have two exits so employees have multiple escape routes.
To protect employees from violent outbreaks hospitals should use bullet proof glass at reception areas. Hospitals are also using a flagging system to prevent patients with violent history from having repeat incidents. When a patient with a history of violence is checked in an alarm pops up on the electronic record. Patients with the violent history should be treated with the same respect as any other patient but employees will know to always be watching. In these cases, hospitals could also use to search patients with history of violence for weapons. Increasing the number of employees working on a shift can also help prevent violent outbreak. Employees should avoid areas with few people or areas that are small and only have one route of escape such as elevators. Of course, everyone will have to use elevators at some point so try to always have a coworker with you and carry a cell phone at all times.
There are many possible ways to prevent a violent outbreak without harming yourself. Everyone loves their own personal space and no one wants anybody to violate it. This is especially true for violent people. To help yourself stay away from the violent patient. Do not get close or touch the person. When the person is talking, you should be listening. This goes for anytime any patient is talking to you. Make an effort to listen and show that you care. Many people will get angry with someone who does not show effort. A violent person will just get increasingly mad. An easy way to show you were listening is to repeat what they said back to them. Patients with mental health illness feel better when you call for help. When mental health patients feel overwhelmed just let them know you have call for help and this will put them at ease.
Of course, this does not always work and sometimes restraints are needed. Sometimes violent outbreaks are unavoidable. You can try everything to stop one and nothing works. Before an outbreak occurs, you should be prepared for one. This includes knowing where and how to activate an emergency system located in the hospital. If no emergency is located in the hospital then contact security or coworkers who can get the word out. Always give as much details as possible. You will need description of the person, location of incident, what is the incident, and when did this incident happen. Always make sure to help others get away from the area, but do not try to move the attacker out of the area. This could agitate him even more and cause serious injuries. If you cannot leave the area find cover and hide. Try to find a room with two escape routes.
Safety in the workplace is very important. All employees should know your employer’s rules when a violent incident occurs. Being able to identify people with an increase risk to become violent will help you to avoid incidents. If a violent incident does occur have a plan before hand to you evade the incident and make sure to report it to the proper authorities. Being well prepared for a violent incident will help you, your coworkers and your patients stay safe in the workplace.
1. Racette, K. (2001) Violence in the Workplace. Radiologic Technology, 72(4): 329-342.
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