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Injured on the job: Judge affirms citations for worker's murder

Health care workers in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are exposed to numerous safety hazards, and some are even life-threatening. One of the great dangers health care workers face is violence. This has received a substantial amount of attention from authorities lately, as multiple workers across the country have been injured on the job in incidents that involved violence. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission recently affirmed a previous finding that a health management company's failure to protect one of its workers against violence resulted in her death.

The incident reportedly occurred in 2012 when a social service worker who was employed by the health management company in another state was murdered while visiting a patient. It was reported that the social worker had documented her discomfort with attending to the patient on her own in the case notes. The patient was apparently a man with a history of criminal violence and severe mental illness. The worker was stabbed to death by the man outside his house.

OSHA said the fact that employers fail to implement protocols and safety regulations that are commonly recognized causes great concern. Hazard assessment must be conducted, and employers must take precautions by addressing each hazard to ensure worker safety. OSHA determined that the health management company failed to do such an assessment, and also failed to have a documented prevention program for the prevention of workplace violence.

This company received citations and penalties totaling more than $10,000. Sadly, though, a family lost a 24-year-old loved because she did not receive the protection to which she was entitled. Fortunately, the workers compensation insurance fund in all states, including Pennsylvania, provides financial relief in the form of death benefits for the families of eligible workers who died after being injured on the job. Families typically receive compensation for end-of-life expenses, along with financial packages for dependents, based on the deceased worker's last salary.

Source: ohsonline.com, "Judge Affirms OSHA's Findings in Death of Health Care Coordinator Killed by Mentally Ill Client", July 3, 2015

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