Part 1: Violence against Homecare Field Staff

Dear friends,

The following article describes recent enforcement action taken by OSHA
against a private duty agency when a field staff member was injured as a
result of workplace violence. Feel free to share this information. If you
decide to use this material, please include our copyright designation that
is shown at the end of the article and send us a copy of any publication in
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for additional information.


Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.

Office: (877) 871-4062

Fax: (877) 871-9739

Twitter: @HogueHomecare

Part 1: Violence against Homecare Field Staff

Homecare field staff members who provide services on behalf of private duty
agencies, hospices, Medicare-certified home health agencies and home medical
equipment (HME) companies are extremely vulnerable. Contributing to their
vulnerability is the fact that they work alone on territory that may be
unfamiliar and over which they have little control. Staff members certainly
need as much protection as possible.

Agencies may be liable when field staff members are injured as a result of
violence. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may, for
example, take action against homecare providers when patients are injured as
a result of violence. Likewise, agencies may be liable for negligence.
Recent enforcement action taken by OSHA against a private duty agency
illustrates the likelihood of liability for such violations by homecare
providers of all types.

On July 5, 2016, OSHA issued a $98,000 fine for an alleged willful violation
of applicable requirements related to exposure to workplace violence,
including physical and sexual assault. The citation was based on an
investigation that began on February 1, 2016, after a staff member was
assaulted by a homecare client. In this case, a staff member who previously
took care of the client had warned the Agency about sexual assaults by the
client. OSHA concluded that the Agency failed to protect its staff members
from life-threatening hazards of workplace violence. According to OSHA, the
Agency also failed to provide an effective workplace violence prevention

Specifically, OSHA took issue with two types of conduct by the Agency:

- Staff members were exposed to physical assault.

- There was no system in place for staff members to use to report
threats and instances of violence to the Agency.

If OSHA's citation is upheld, OSHA will require the Agency to abate these
findings by:

- Developing and implementing a written, comprehensive program to
prevent violence in the workplace

- Implementing a hazard assessment of violence in the workplace

- Developing and implementing measures to control violence in the
workplace, such as an option to refuse to provide services to clients in
hazardous situations

- Developing and implementing a training program on violence in the

- Developing procedures to follow in instances of violence, including
making reports and conducting investigations of such instances

- Putting in place a system that allows staff members to report all
instances of violence, regardless of severity

Homecare staff members provide increasingly important services under
circumstances that can be difficult, to say the least. Perhaps the highest
obligation of all homecare providers is to protect their staff members.
Proposed action by OSHA described above provides a "road map" for providers
to follow as they continue to work to address the issue of violence against
homecare staff members.

CCopyright, 2016. Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without the
advance written permission of the author.
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