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Did you know that the Joint Commission continues to place an emphasis on workplace violence prevention and response? TJC has several standards that support the development of a workplace violence program based on an annual worksite analysis. In fact, it is the responsibility of both Hospital and Behavioral Health organizations to take action to mitigate or resolve the workplace violence safety and security risks. These actions should be based on the findings from the analysis. However, these standards have never been as important as they are now and here is why.

Workplace Violence is a Pervasive Issue in Healthcare

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), healthcare workers are four times more likely to be victims of workplace violence than workers in other industries making it one of the most dangerous professions in terms of violence exposure.  Nurses, nursing assistants, mental health techs, and other direct care providers are most at risk for workplace violence. Moreover, it’s an even bigger risk in emergency departments and psychiatric settings.

The Joint Commission Standards Support a Safe and Secure Environment

The Joint Commission has key standards to assist organizations in preventing and mitigating the effects of workplace violence. TJC requires the organization to establish a workplace violence program leader and multidisciplinary team to establish policies and procedures to prevent and respond to workplace violence; a process for reporting incidents to evaluate incidents and trends; a procedure for follow-up and support for victims and witnesses affected by workplace violence; and reporting of workplace violence incidents to the governing body.  

A workplace violence program includes conducting an annual proactive analysis of the worksite, investigation of the hospital’s workplace violence incidents, and an analysis of how the program’s policies, procedures, training, education, and environmental design reflect best practices and conform to law and regulation. The organization must take actions to mitigate or resolve the identified safety and security risks based on the findings of this analysis.

Further, a comprehensive workplace violence program requires organizations to report and investigate workplace violence incidents involving patients, staff, or others within its facilities. As a part of its workplace violence prevention program, the organization provides training, education and resources to leadership, staff, and licensed practitioners upon orientation, annually and whenever material changes occur. Important educational content includes the roles and responsibilities of leadership, clinical staff, security personnel, and external law enforcement; training in de-escalation, nonphysical intervention skills, physical intervention techniques, and response to emergency incidents; and the reporting process for workplace violence incidents.

Joint Commission Workplace Violence Resources

In addition, Joint Commission Resources resumed its annual Emergency Management Conference in June of 2023. The “Effective Active Attacker Exercises: Avoiding Common Pitfalls” presentation was highlighted in the August 2023 Environment of Care News. Brian Berry, Director of Emergency Management – Great Lakes Region for Bon Secours Mercy Health emphasized the use of realistic, unscripted exercises for health care staff. Here are some of his recommendations:

  • Conduct a full-scale exercise
  • Train all staff in the FBI run-hide-fight active attacker protocol
  • Do not pre-designate a safe room
  • Involve local law enforcement and the fire department in active attacker exercises
  • Prepare for a real event rather than a Joint Commission survey

Remember, even a simulated active attacker exercise can be traumatic for leaders and staff. Be sure to debrief participants and provide mental health support where needed.  

More Workplace Violence Resources

What’s more, you can additional resources from several national sources including the: 

Implications for your Joint Commission Survey

Prepare materials to orient the Joint Commission survey team to your workplace violence program. Provide policies and procedures; evidence of education and training upon orientation, annually and when significant changes occur; meeting minutes; governing body reports; incident data; drill outcomes, lessons learned, and plan revisions. Prepare your workplace violence program leader and interdisciplinary team to concisely discuss your program, it’s compliance with the TJC standards, what you have learned, how you have improved the program over time, and your improved outcomes.

Barrins & Associates Consultation

Our expert consultants are available to help organizations develop and implement their Workplace Violence Programs. We incorporate compliance with workplace violence standards in our Mock Survey and Continuous Readiness Consultations. We continue to be your partner in achieving and sustaining Joint Commission Accreditation and regulatory compliance.