Across the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) includes a “General Duty Clause” that requires employers to provide a workplace “free of recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or physical harm.” And you’re likely already familiar with the numerous recommended guidelines to help incorporate workplace violence prevention (WPVP) practices to protect worker safety. Although these guidelines exist, WPVP programs are not traditionally the norm.

For fields focused on patient safety like yours, workplace violence (WPV) is often treated as a security problem. But the state of the current industry only continues to show that WPVP efforts must be integrated throughout the entire health system.

The most effective way to begin building a facility wide WPVP program? It starts at the top. Let’s review how top-down leadership plays a critical role in ensuring successful implementation of WPVP.

The Importance of Top-Down Leadership

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for WPVP and should ensure that the Board of Directors is regularly updated on progress. The CEO should assign accountability to a senior executive with sufficient scope of responsibility and authority in the system's governance model. And while the public safety leader will be a critical part of the program, they are probably not the right choice to lead it alone. Employees, patients, or visitors could be violent anywhere, whether in hospitals, clinic, or offices, so the WPVP program must be organi­zation-wide, and will require multidisciplinary cooperation.

To com­ply with governmental, accreditation, and other regulations, WPVP efforts must be woven into all normal operations, training, and standard recordkeeping.

The Role of the WPVP Program Executive Sponsor

The WPVP program executive sponsor must have the authority to assign WPVP goals and objectives to all types of leaders across the system and to harness organizational resources in support of the program. At the highest level, the senior executive sponsor should convene a standing workgroup or committee of supporting depart­ment executives. This should include a representative who can address challenges in including non-employee physicians and providers, both for training and compliance. This group would form the overall organizational WPVP committee.

Think of the WPVP as an umbrella for your organization’s safety and culture, with leadership at the top and the committee its supporting ribs. Each rib relies on one another to hold that safety and culture in place.

Dive Deeper with a Digital Copy of the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook

Want to dive deeper into where leaders can begin and recommend approaches for implementation? The strategies discussed here are from the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, published by CPI and authored by health care professionals for health care professionals.

CPI is launching a short survey focused on how workplace violence has impacted you, and the steps your organization has taken. Collecting this data will, for the very first time, present a clear picture of what organizations like yours can do to establish and maintain a workplace focused on the Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM of everyone.

After completing the survey, you will receive a digital copy of the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook.

Take the survey. Get the book.