Capitol Correspondence - 05.09.23

Small Business Advocacy Review Panel Raises Concerns About OSHA’s Potential Rulemaking

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been in the process of developing a potential standard for the Prevention of Workplace Violence in Health Care and Social Assistance. OSHA convened a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel in March 2023 to hear from representatives of small businesses and Small Entity Representatives (SERs) who could potentially be affected by the draft rule.

The SBAR panel included members from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Office of Advocacy, OSHA, and the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OSHA received input from SERs representing various industry sectors, including hospitals, residential care facilities, home health care, social assistance, and correctional health settings.

The definition of a “small entity” varies widely across the broad range of industry sectors potentially covered by the standard. The size standards vary by industry sector and are usually based on either number of employees or revenue expressed in millions of dollars.Last week, the panel released a report with a series of findings and recommendations. Among them were concerns about the need for a rule based on existing regulations and worries about the scope of the rule in supportive housing settings.

Workplace violence is a widespread issue in the health care and social assistance sectors. According to OSHA, in 2019, the rate of nonfatal workplace violence incidents requiring workers to take time off was nearly five times higher in privately operated health care and social assistance establishments than in private industry overall. Certain segments within these industries experience even higher rates of violence.

OSHA recognizes that workplace violence in health care and social assistance is a sensitive issue that requires specialized methods and protocols for the delivery of care. The rulemaking action will focus on Type-II workplace violence perpetrated by patients, clients, and visitors, as it is prevalent in the health care industry and can be reasonably anticipated and mitigated by employers.

Topics to be considered in the potential draft standard include a programmatic approach to workplace violence prevention, workplace violence hazard assessments, workplace violence control measures, preventive training, violent incident investigations and recordkeeping, anti-retaliatory provisions, and approaches that avoid stigmatization of health care patients and social assistance clients.

ANCOR will continue monitoring for rulemaking and provide updates as more information becomes available.