October 10, 2007 The Pump Handle 1Comment

Why do people assault those who are trying to help them (or their family members)? Alcohol, drugs, and dementia are among the causes, and the result is that health care workers and social workers face a high risk of on-the-job injury. The Edmonton Journal reports that nearly 20 percent of the Workers Compensation Board of Alberta claims are for violence aimed at health care workers (thanks to Tasha for the link). At The Doctor’s Office online WSJ column, Dr. Benjamin Brewer reports that a study at a large Florida hospital found 74% of the nurses reported being physically assaulted during the past year.

Meanwhile, Philly.com has the story of a social worker who went to a home to check on a report of an unsupervised toddler and was attacked by the child’s inebriated mother – and then had a hard time finding someone to call the police for her because the first three neighbors she begged for help didn’t want to get involved. Earlier this year, Kentucky passed a law requiring new safety measures for social workers after social services aide Boni Frederick was fatally beaten and stabbed while on the job (Occupational Hazards has a summary).


Rocky Mountain News: Donnie DeJaynes, one of the workers killed last week in a fire inside a power-plant tunnel, told his family he kept a log of what he considered to be hazardous working conditions – but the log was no longer in DeJaynes’s car when company officials returned it to family members. The New York Times reports that the workers’ employer, RPI Coating, had been fined 90 times for violations times since 1988.

Inside Higher Ed: A House subcommittee hearing on “The Silent Proliferation of Bio-Laboratories in the United States” demonstrates the increased scrutiny these facilities are under after Texas A&M failed to report to the federal government about incidents of human exposure to dangerous biological agents.

Occupational Hazards: OSHA’s Lead in Construction Standard, adopted in 1993, has helped reduce blood lead levels among construction workers – and thus the incidence of lead-related disease – an agency review finds.

BBC: A new study estimates that the annual death toll from occupational cancers may be four times higher than the British government figure; a BBC investigation finds that Britain lags behind its European neighbors in controlling workplace carcinogens.

business.iafrica.com and CBC News: South Africa and Canada grapple with the toll of asbestos mining. South Africa halted it in the mid-1980s but is still seeing the health effects of it today; Canada continues mining asbestos, and some clinic doctors fear that the number of mesothelioma cases will soar in coming years.

One thought on “Occupational Health News Roundup

  1. This is extremely true of Corrections and Social and Health Services in Washington State. However, the assaultive behavior is more commonly dished out by staff than by inmates and clients.

    Verbal Assaults, extreme emotional abuse, work sabotage, unfounded and unnecessary negative documentation, and the total destruction of workplace relationships are perpetrated on good employees rather than bad. (the bad ones are just fired). The supervisors are to blame, and it is usually the supervisors doing the grabbing as well. All this put together is a recipe for WORKPLACE BULLYING with the additional spice of a little bit of physical bad behavior.

    Holding these supervisors accountable can be impossible, as the agency usually lock steps with the supervisor. Investigations are weighted heavily against the complainant and staff suffer from unprovable retaliation. We even have one supervisor who has reached out and grabbed her subordinates breasts and has lifted up their blouses. The agency investigation determined this but the remedy? TO COUNSEL HER AS TO PROPER WAYS OF DEALING WITH STAFF ! ! !

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