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Workplace Violence Incidents at Two Hospitals as Security Seeks Prevention Strategies

Continuing Problem Deserves Continuous Attention

February 24, 2012

Recent shootings in Connecticut and Virginia spotlight this continuing problem. And a unique iSecurity event, free on the Web and part of a day long tradeshow March 8, from 10 am to 4 pm EST, has some expert advice. Go to Events on the Security magazine home page and click on iSecurity Virtual Show or Google the keyword isecuritytradeshow for registration information on the show and the session Preparing a Violence Prevention Plan with New OSHA Approach by speaker W. Barry Nixon, Executive Director, National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence.

In one recent incident, A New Britain, Connecticut hospital maintenance worker shot and wounded two of his supervisors February 22 in a dispute over a disciplinary issue, police said. The suspect was arrested without incident at his house within a mile from the hospital and an hour of the shooting. The two victims were in serious but stable condition at a Hartford hospital. The shootings took place at the 200 bed Hospital for Special Care, a private nonprofit facility specializing in rehabilitation and long-term acute care. A helicopter with a search light flew over the hospital, which was surrounded by police cars and ambulances. SWAT teams with rifles walked along the streets outside the building in New Britain. No further details about the dispute were immediately available. Officials said the two victims were specifically targeted and that a handgun was recovered.

That same day, the fatal shooting at the McGuire Veterans Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, allegedly also involved a custodial worker there who inexplicably fired a pistol at a neighbor he had brought there for a regular cancer treatment. An Army veteran receiving cancer treatments was struck in the head and the eye during the shooting on the parking lot outside of the vast South Richmond facility. He was taken to a hospital where he died 14 hours later. State troopers stopped the custodial worker at the wheel of the blue pickup they had been riding in shortly after the shooting. On his lap was a revolver holding two bullets and three spent cartridges, according to the U.S. Attorneys office. His live-in girlfriend, who works as a nurse’s aide at the VA, is the victim first cousin. There had been no friction between the two men, the girlfriend said. No fight in the truck on the way there, or after they arrived. There was only the briefest warning. Because the shooting happened on federal property, the FBI is investigating.

Put iSecurity on your must do calendar and attend the session Preparing a Violence Prevention Plan with New OSHA Approach.

Signs are pointing to OSHA embracing the Injury Illness Prevention Program approach US wide to dealing with workplace hazards. Here is what they say on the Web site: Injury and Illness Prevention Programs can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. Many states have requirements or voluntary guidelines for workplace injury and illness prevention programs. Also, numerous employers in the United States already manage safety using Injury and Illness Prevention Programs and we believe that all employers can and should do the same. Most successful injury and illness prevention programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement.

In addition, OHSA has adapted a new motto to characterize the IIPP approach Plan, Prevent and Protect. In the workplace violence prevention area The National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence, Inc. has pioneered and been a leader in advocating the ‘prevention approach versus a zero tolerance approach that most organizations adapted in the twentieth century. Even prior to the new direction that OSHA appears to be heading the Institute adapted a motto of Plan, Detect, Prevent and Protect.

There is no coincidence that these paths have crossed and aligned. The Institute worked as the Workplace Violence Prevention Consultant for the State of California which for many years has required organizations to implement IIPPs. Accordingly, the Institute became very familiar with IIPPs and adapting workplace violence prevention programs to work in conjunction with them and as part of a plan. During this session, Barry will present the steps you can take to prepare a violence prevention plan in your workplace. More info at

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