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Addressing occupational violence and aggression in healthcare

If you’ve been paying attention to WorkSafe advertisements in the past year, you will have noticed the campaign ‘It’s Never OK’ has been rolling out across television, print, and online medias. This campaign is a collaboration between WorkSafe Victoria and The Department of Health and Human Services to create more awareness around the occupational violence experienced by healthcare workers across the state.

‘It’s Never OK’ ads play out scenarios faced by healthcare employees on a daily basis; paramedics responding to emergency calls, aged care workers completing their duties, and nurses undertaking procedures on a busy ward – all of which feature very real acts of aggression towards the workers from members of the public. 95% of our healthcare workers report having experienced physical or verbal assault.

Wilson Security are proud to work closely with workplaces across the healthcare industry, creating tailored security plans to protect workers from abuse.

Defining occupational violence and aggression

The first thing that must be universally understood is that extreme acts of violence are unacceptable in every circumstance. However, when these outbursts of aggression are a daily occurrence in particular workplaces, they are classified as occupational.

There isn’t one standard example of what violent and aggressive behaviour looks like; it exists on a scale. This can start as small as gestures or expressions such as eye rolling or sneering, escalating to verbal abuse in the form of shouting, swearing, and name calling. It includes intimidating behaviour such as invading a worker’s personal space and standing over them, as well as physical assaults such as pushing, spitting, biting, scratching, tripping, and snatching. The worst offenders commit extreme acts such as hitting, punching or kicking, strangulation, personal and physical threats, and sexual assault.

The toll on our healthcare workers

Nobody should go to work expecting violent behaviour to be used against them, but this is the reality for many of our healthcare workers. When 9 out of 10 nurses report having been verbally or physically assaulted, it comes as no shock that surveys reveal high job dissatisfaction and unhappiness are widespread across the industry. Fear of aggression is prevalent amongst healthcare workers. Conducting their day-to-day duties – which include performing complex procedures and delivering outstanding care to patients – becomes difficult when staff are forced to look over their shoulders to keep an eye out for potential threats.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews announced full government funding for a myriad of courses to address industries that have recorded lower numbers of applicants and workers, so it’s not surprising to see that a number of these are in healthcare. Diploma in Nursing, and certificates in mental health, aged care, and dental assisting are being offered throughout Victorian TAFEs free of charge in an attempt to supplement dwindling numbers. There are a number of factors that dissuade people from pursuing careers in these industries, such as lower income and atypical work hours, but the threat of violence and aggression is a significant issue.

Enhance the security of your workplace

Wilson Security is determined to enhance the safety of healthcare workers across Australia. From Melbourne to Perth, our trained officers are equipped to maintain a calm and respectful environment in workplaces, from emergency rooms to aged care facilities. With a strong security presence, aggression can be dispelled or prevented, and situations that escalate can be swiftly handled.

As well as a physical presence, Wilson Security also tailor technological security measures to ensure that patients and visitors can only access approved areas, with staff using swipe cards or access codes to enter off-limits rooms where medication or supplies are stored.

Reach out to our security consultants on 1300 945 766 for a thorough risk assessment and our recommended security solutions.