Apr 11 2011

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Treatment Center Cited for Workplace Violence Following Employee's Death

from Occupational Health & Safety Magazine

OSHA has cited The Renaissance Project Inc. in Ellenville, N.Y., for failing to provide its employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence as well as other alleged hazards. OSHA initiated an investigation in October 2010 following the death of one employee and the wounding of another, allegedly committed by a client at the addiction treatment facility. The organization faces a total of $28,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA’s investigation found that the employer had not developed or implemented adequate measures to protect its staff from physical assaults nor had it provided training to staff to advise them on how to respond in the event of an actual or threatened physical assault.

As a result, OSHA has cited the facility with a serious violation of the agency’s general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury.

“This citation points to the clear and pressing need for The Renaissance Project and similar facilities to develop a comprehensive program that will proactively address workplace violence situations that imperil the safety and health of their workers,” said Edward Jerome, OSHA’s area director in Albany.

This serious citation includes a number of suggested means of abatement that the facility can pursue to address the workplace violence issue. These include:

– Conduct an annual, site-specific workplace violence hazard analysis to identify hazards, conditions, operations and situations that could lead to violence, and address and correct any identified deficiencies.

– Evaluate the staff communication log to identify clients that exhibit violent behavior and incorporate measures that reduce the likelihood of clients committing violence in the workplace.

– Develop and train employees in an emergency communication program.

– Develop and implement engineering and administrative controls to reduce workplace violence hazards.

– Ensure that a sufficient security presence and/or personnel are on facility floors at all times.

– Establish open communication between security and other employees to help identify problematic clients and situations that could result in an incident.

– Train security personnel in crisis intervention, and workplace violence prevention policies and programs.

OSHA also has issued four additional serious citations to The Renaissance Project for the lack of a written exposure control plan and training for employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens; failing to offer the Hepatitis B vaccine to such employees; and for not having a written hazard communication program.

Additionally, the facility has been issued two other-than-serious citations for not maintaining illness and injury logs for 2010, and not notifying OSHA of the worker fatality within eight hours.

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