Federal safety regulators have cited a facility for troubled youth in Reading, Penn., for failing to adequately protect its employees against workplace violence after at least 10 workers were violently attacked or assaulted in the past seven months.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said that one employee of The Children’s Home of Reading was seriously injured after being kicked in the face, head, and neck by a resident of the facility, which has been in operation since 1886.
Sadly, workplace violence remains one of the leading causes of on-the-job injuries in the United States. Each year, some 2 million workers become the victims of workplace violence in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, nearly 9 percent of the 4,679 workplace fatalities in 2014 were the result of homicide.
OSHA said it investigated The Children’s Home of Reading on March 7 in response to an employee complaint. On Sept. 7, the agency cited the facility for two serious safety violations.
One of the citations OSHA issued involved the facility’s failure to comply with the general duty clause, which requires employers to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are likely to cause serious physical harm.
The other violation involved the facility’s failure to provide employees with personal protective equipment to guard their arms against bites. OSHA proposed fines of $23,160 for the violations.
“Employees have the right to a safe and healthful workplace. However, there are many documented reports in the past several years of employees being exposed to workplace violence at The Children’s Home of Reading,” said Timothy Braun, acting director of OSHA’s Harrisburg Area Office. “This facility must take immediate action and institute effective protective measures to ensure that no more workers get hurt.”
According to OSHA, certain U.S. workers are more at risk of workplace violence than others. Those at increased risk are workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas.
Employees who work in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public are also at a high risk of violence, including visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators, probation officers, and other health care and social service workers.