January 26, 2023

OSHA Panel to Discuss Potential Standard on Workplace Violence

OSHA plans to soon convene a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel to discuss a potential standard to prevent workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance. The agency seeks representatives from small businesses and local government entities who could be affected by the draft rule to participate in this early stage of the rulemaking process. Industry sectors for which OSHA seeks small entity representatives include hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and residential behavioral health facilities, ambulatory mental healthcare and ambulatory substance abuse treatment centers, freestanding emergency centers, residential care facilities, home healthcare, emergency medical services, and social assistance. Employees who work in these sectors are among those who might be covered by a new OSHA standard on workplace violence.

The SBAR panel will comprise individuals from OSHA, the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. During this process, OSHA intends to present small entity representatives with a “programmatic approach for the prevention of workplace violence.” Representatives will then be asked to provide input related to how OSHA’s draft regulation might affect the operations of their workplaces.

The SBAR panel will also consider topics such as workplace violence hazard assessments and control measures, preventive training, violent incident investigations and recordkeeping, and anti-retaliatory provisions as part of the potential draft standard. Also of interest to the panel are approaches that avoid stigmatization of healthcare patients and social assistance clients.

“OSHA recognizes that workplace violence in healthcare and social assistance is a sensitive issue,” the agency’s website states. “This is not only due to the nature of the injuries sustained by workers, but also because it involves patients and clients who may be experiencing psychiatric, behavioral, or substance abuse issues that may require specialized methods and protocols for the delivery of care.”

Rulemaking activities related to workplace violence have been on OSHA’s agenda for years. The agency first published a request for information in 2016 to gather information on workplace violence and prevention strategies from healthcare employers, workers, and other subject matter experts.

Those who are interested in participating in the SBAR panel as small entity representatives should contact OSHA or the Small Business Administration. Contact information for the appropriate individuals at these agencies as well as additional details about the process can be found on OSHA’s website.

Related: A Synergist article published in December 2018 discusses strategies for preventing workplace violence, and an article from 2015 focuses on workplace violence in healthcare.