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Workers' compensation: Mental health workers exposed to violence

Many employees in mental health facilities suffer serious injuries because they are not properly protected against assaults by mental health patients who become violent. Many workers' compensation claims follow such violence every year. Following an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a behavioral health center in Florida faces over $71,000 in proposed penalties.

Another facility of this company was cited for similar safety violations in 2016. This latest investigation was initiated after OSHA received complaints from employees about the lack of protection against attacks. OSHA investigators say the facility failed to institute controls that would protect the care providers from harm.

Reportedly, employees were not only victims of verbal abuse, they were also exposed to threats of assaults. Kicking, punching, biting and the use of various objects as weapons were apparently not uncommon. An OSHA spokesperson for the agency's area office in Tampa says incidents that occurred during the past two years were not effectively addressed, often leaving employees with serious injuries.

Victims of workplace violence in any industry in Florida might be entitled to seek financial assistance to cover medical expenses and lost wages. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can navigate benefits claims on behalf of injured workers. If a worker's injuries were caused by a person who is not an employee of the same firm, it might be possible to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit in a civil court. If the attorney finds grounds for such a complaint, more comprehensive recovery than that offered by workers' compensation benefits might be possible.

Source: ohsonline.com, "OSHA Cites Health Facility for Exposing Employees to Workplace Violence", May 3, 2018

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