OSHA Addresses Workplace Violence as Recognizable Nursing Home Hazard

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a new National Emphasis Program for senior care facilities to protect workers from serious safety and health hazards often present in the industry. While this newest NEP doesn’t have any significant changes from the previous one released in 2002, it does address workplace violence.

A 2009 study found that nursing assistants working in long-term care facilities had the highest incidence of workplace violence of any American worker, with 27% of all workplace violence occurring in nursing homes.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines workplace violence as “violent acts (including physical assaults and threats of assaults) directed toward persons at work or on duty.”



In 2010, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed approximately 2,130 assaults by persons in nursing and residential care facilities, with OSHA calling workplace violence a “recognized hazard” in these environments.

The NEP instructs OSHA officials who conduct worksite inspections in industries with high incidence of workplace violence (including the healthcare industry) to investigate incidents related to workplace violence in addition to other routine investigations.


“Citations should focus on the specific hazard employees are exposed to, not the events that caused the incident or the lack of a particular abatement method,” the NEP reads.

The NEP also addresses ways to protect workers from other serious safety and health hazards common in medical industries, and provides a link for further guidance on ergonomics and workplace violence.

View the latest NEP.

Written by Alyssa Gerace