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Care facility allegedly left staff members open to assault

Boston, Massachusetts, has a wide array of care facilities. Those include facilities for both physical and psychiatric care. The management of each facility is responsible for the safety of both their patients and their staff. If they fail to ensure the safety of their staff, they may face workers' compensation claims or penalties from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that oversees workplace safety.

That is the case for a local psychiatric hospital in Lowell. OSHA, according to a recent press release, is proposing $207,690 in penalties for the hospital. This was based on their belief that employees of the hospital were endangered by the patients, to the extent of facing "death or serious physical harm".

OSHA's belief is based on a thorough investigation of the hospital. The inspectors that OSHA sent to the hospital found that the employees continued to be exposed to repeated incidents of workplace violence. OSHA says that the number of those incidents would have been greatly reduced if the hospital had fully implemented all aspects of the settlement agreement that was in place.

The problems at the hospital are not new. In fact, an OSHA inspection back in May 2015 resulted in a warning to the hospital. At that time, OSHA investigators determined that employees of the hospital did not have a safe workplace environment. Instead, those employees were being subjected to abuse by patients, including various kinds of assault, like being choked, kicked, scratched, bit and punched.

In April 2016, the hospital made an agreement to prevent workplace violence. That agreement required the implementation of specific measures designed to keep employees safe. However, the hospital did not adhere to the terms of the agreement, and so OSHA opened a follow-up investigation at the beginning of this year. This case demonstrates how important it is for care facilities to protect the safety of their employees as well as their patients. Failing to do so will result in serious legal consequences.

Source: Lowell Sun, "OSHA: Lowell treatment center put staff at risk," Chris Lisinski, Aug. 21, 2017

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