CHA News Article

GAO Report on Health Care Workplace Violence

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on workplace violence in health care facilities and efforts to address the issue by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The report — the result of a request from several congressional representatives — examines what is known about workplace violence in health care facilities and the associated costs; steps OSHA has taken to protect health care workers from workplace violence and the usefulness of those efforts; how selected states have addressed this issue; and research on the effectiveness of workplace violence prevention programs in health care facilities. As part of its review, the GAO met with Cal/OSHA as well as CHA’s health care workplace violence prevention workgroup.  

The report focuses on health care workplace violence prevention at the federal level and offers recommendations to OSHA, which does not have a health care workplace violence prevention standard.

Specifically, the report cites five studies evaluating whether workplace violence prevention plans reduced the incidence of workplace violence and found mixed results, although the research is limited. Three studies conducted at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals showed a modest reduction in workplace violence as a result of implementing a plan. However, a study conducted utilizing six hospital emergency departments had mixed results. Finally, a study conducted at three inpatient behavioral health facilities found that implementing a workplace violence prevention program improved staff perceptions of the safety climate in the facility but did not result in an overall change in assault rates. 

Given that California is in the process of adopting comprehensive health care workplace violence prevention regulations, this report is of limited use — but nonetheless provides interesting data. CHA will provide this report to Cal/OSHA as it continues developing health care workplace violence prevention regulations. For more information about the status of those regulations, visit