By A. Scott HeckerAdam R. YoungPatrick D. JoyceBenjamin D. Briggs, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth Synopsis: A Small Business Advocacy Review Panel for a potential OSHA standard to address Prevention of Workplace Violence in the Healthcare and Social Assistance sectors concluded on May 1, 2023. The Final Report is available here, with specific Findings and Recommendations here.

A Small Business Advocacy Review Panel (“Panel”) convened under Section 609(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, to address the potential for an OSHA standard concerning workplace violence (“WPV”) in healthcare and social assistance, similar to California’s existing standard.  The Panel continued a seven-year push by OSHA to evaluate WPV and the potential for a federal standard.  According to the panel’s findings, the healthcare industry’s 20.9 million employees face WPV at a rate six times higher than the rest of the American workforce, primarily resulting from violent behavior by patients, extended care residents, and visitors. On calls with stakeholders in preparation for the report, employers raised concerns about the quality of WPV programs in place (compliant with the draft framework for a WPV standard), increased costs from new overlapping regulations, and minimal potential effects in risk-reducing behavior.   For hospitals and many employers in the industry, the Joint Commission – a hospital accreditation body recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services –addresses workplace violence in the relevant industries.

The Panel recommended OSHA consider, among other items:

  • The need for a rule, given “existing regulations, guidance and accreditation standard on WPV prevention.”
  • Flexibility in the standard to allow employers to tailor their compliance approaches to the particular circumstances of their facilities.
  • The appropriate scope, including particular risks and concerns in various potentially-covered sectors.
  • “[T]he elements of [effective WPV training programs in healthcare and social assistance],” so OSHA can incorporate them into any standard or related guidance.
  • “[T]he recordkeeping requirement to make it clear that, while certain information should be recorded about an incident, there would not necessarily be a requirement for a separate form or format that employers would be required to use.”

We will continue to monitor this rulemaking and report on relevant updates.  In the meantime, we have blogged previously on this topic, and employers can review those postings for additional WPV insights. See for instance: National Retail Federation Free Webinar on Workplace Violence; National Safety Council Releases Workplace Violence Resources for Employers; OSHA Healthcare COVID-19 Rule Takes Priority over Heat Illness, Workplace Violence; CDC Guidance on Workplace Violence in Retail Associated with COVID-19, Customer Face Mask Enforcement; Illinois State Police Provide Training on Active Shooter, Workplace Violence; House Passes Legislation on Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Social Assistance; Commission Decisions Confirm that Employers Must Take Action to Protect Employees from Workplace Violence; Workplace Violence and Shootings in the Spotlight; OSHA and Title VII on Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Social Assistance; NIOSH Offers Free Training Program to Help Employers Address Safety Risks Faced by Home Healthcare Workers; OSHA Issues “Strategies and Tools” to “Help Prevent” Workplace Violence in the Healthcare Setting; Healthcare Employers to Get Even More Attention from OSHA; OSHA Updates Workplace Violence Guidance for Protecting Healthcare and Social Service Workers; CA Nears Adoption of New Workplace Violence Regulations for Health Care Employers, Home Health Providers, and Emergency Responders.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.