Workers in psychiatric and mental health facilities face a variety of hazards on the job. Among the most serious of these are assaults by patients and injuries sustained while subduing out-of-control patients. In the opinion of one California psychiatrist, violent assaults happen on a daily basis in most inpatient mental health facilities. He tempers that by saying that just 15 percent of psychiatric patients are responsible for 90 percent of the violence. But even criminally-violent patients are given a surprising amount of freedom. This exposes workers to significant risks.
A recent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) underscores the safety issues facing psychiatric and mental health workers. The agency cited a Massachusetts mental health facility for failing to implement a workplace violence prevention program as it had been ordered to do. The facility, owned by Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS), has been assessed a fine of $207,690.
UHS operates more than 290 acute care mental health facilities in the U.S., including three in Colorado:
Centennial Peaks Hospital in Louisville
Highlands Behavioral Health in Littleton
Cedar Springs Hospital in Colorado Springs
Other injuries suffered by mental health workers
The threat of assault is not the only hazard faced by mental health professionals. Like other healthcare care workers, they can suffer:
Sprains, fractures and broken bones resulting from slip-and-fall accidents
Back and shoulder injuries from moving patients
Stress and emotional exhaustion due to overwork and understaffing can compound these hazards, increasing the possibility of an injury.
If you are a mental health worker who has suffered an on-the-job injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with an attorney if you have questions about filing a claim.