Arizona Medical Center Fined For Failure To Provide Employees With Safe Workplace — Occupational Health & Safety
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Arizona Medical Center Fined For Failure To Provide Employees With Safe Workplace — Occupational Health & Safety

Arizona Medical Center Fined For Failure To Provide Employees With Safe Workplace — Occupational Health & Safety

Arizona Medical Center Fined For Failure To Provide Employees With Safe Workplace

Bob Stump VA Medical Center faced similar violations during an OSHA investigation in 2019.

For the second time in four years, federal investigators found that the Bob Stump VA Medical Center in Prescott, part of the Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System, failed to protect health care workers from aggressive patients. OSHA regulations require employers to provide a safe workplace, free from hazards that could cause serious injury or death.

According to a recent release, OSHA opened an investigation in December 2023 into allegations that the facility subjected nurses, nursing assistants and housekeeping staff to severe patient violence, including kicking, biting, hitting, punching, slapping and sexual harassment. It follows similar findings from a 2019 investigation.

Under Executive Order 12196, federal agencies must follow the same occupational health and safety standards as private-sector employers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. While federal agencies are generally exempt from OSHA penalties, they must address and correct unsafe conditions identified by the agency. If the establishment were a private-sector employer, it could be subject to penalties of up to $161,323.

“Health care workers face workplace violence up to four times more often than those in the private sector,” Phoenix Area OSHA Director Zachary Barnett said in a statement. “The failure of the Bob Stump VA Medical Center to prevent the same hazards that existed in 2019 is alarming. Facility leaders must take immediate action to better protect their employees from workplace violence before someone is seriously injured or even killed in a preventable incident.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of nonfatal workplace assaults among hospital workers is 8.3 per 10,000, while in the private sector the rate is 2.0 per 10,000 workers.

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Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Occupational Health and Safety Editor.