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Violence causes social services workers to be injured at work

Employees who work in the social services sector in Colorado and other states are sometimes exposed to the violent behavior of the individuals they are trying to help. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited an organization in another state for failure to protect its workers against violence. Every worker has the right to a safe working environment, and known hazards must be addressed to avoid employees from being injured at work.

According to OSHA, the organization provides therapeutic treatment that includes counseling and education in programs that are developed to assist adolescents. Unfortunately, some of the individuals assisted tend to be violent, and workers are exposed to physical assault hazards. Injuries that have been reported include stab wounds, contusions, abrasions and even bite wounds.

This investigation followed a report of workplace violence received by OSHA. Investigators determined that the organization was aware of the hazards but continued to expose workers to the violence for many years. The agency said such disregard of employee safety is unacceptable. OSHA declared that, going forward, it will expand its health care inspections to also cover health and safety risks such as workplace violence.

Colorado workers who have been injured at work under most circumstances may pursue a claim to cover medical expenses that were brought about by the incident. The workers' compensation insurance fund provides financial relief for on-the-job injuries. Victims may file benefit claims for medical expenses and related costs, and if the injury caused a worker to be absent from work, a percentage of lost income may also be included in the compensation package.

Source: workerscompensation.com, "Employees Injured by Violent Clients at Alabama Social Services Center", July 13, 2015

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