Oregon hospital workers still feel unsafe months after OSHA stepped in

After the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Oregon State Hospital $54,000 in October for failing to prevent workplace injuries, attacks on the hospital's workers have not decreased, according to the Statesman Journal.

A month after OSHA fined the hospital, a nurse manager required corrective surgery for cracked ribs and a fractured foot because a patient attacked and bit him, the Statesman reported July 23. He returned to work 105 days later on restricted duty. 

The psychiatric hospital's investigative team found the patient had a "history of violent behavior," and the attack happened while other employees were on scheduled breaks or escorting patients to meals. The facility did not initially list recommendations to prevent similar assaults in the future, according to an OSHA report.

From October through April, the number of violent attacks on state hospital workers has stayed the same, according to an OSHA final inspection report the Statesman obtained.

"Unfortunately, staff still do not feel safe," Katherine Hays, president of the Sub-Local 392 chapter of the hospital workers union, told the news outlet. "We're still continuing to see a lot of assaults, and some of them [are] fairly severe."

A spokesperson for the hospital said its workplace safety plan is complex.

"Addressing workplace violence is about risk reduction, not risk elimination," the spokesperson said. "The reason, in part, is because it involves human behavior, which can be unpredictable."

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