12 workplace violence risk factors in healthcare

No one would dispute the fact that healthcare workers face multiple dangers, including potential chemical and drug exposures, biological and respiratory hazards, risks associated with laboratories, radioactive material and x-ray, among others. But few have spoken about one of the most common risks: workplace violence.

risk factors that put healthcare workers at higher risk of workplace violence

Healthcare workers face a challenge when dealing with workplace violence

80% of serious violent incidents reported in healthcare settings were caused by interactions with patients according to OSHA. Although risks factors may vary by healthcare setting, the most common ones are:

  1. Working with people who have a history of violence or may be delirious or under influence of drugs. 
  2. Working alone.
  3. Lack of means of emergency communication. 
  4. Working in neighborhoods with high criminal rates. 
  5. Long wait times and overcrowded waiting rooms. 
  6. Lifting, moving and transporting patients. 
  7. Poor environmental designs that may block vision or escape routes. 
  8. Poor lighting in hallways or exterior areas.
  9. Lack of training and policies for staff.
  10. Understaffing at certain hours (for example, during mealtimes or visiting hours).
  11. Unrestricted public access. 
  12. Perception that violence is accepted and therefore reporting will have no effects.
Why healthcare workers are exposed to violence?

Where does violence occur?

Anywhere in the healthcare facility, but the most frequent areas are: 

  • Psychiatric wards.
  • Emergency rooms.
  • Waiting rooms.
  • Geriatric Units.
  • Parking Lots

One of the best ways shown to protect workers, patients, clients, contractors, visitors (and anyone else that may come in contact with employees) is to set up a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence. This should be written down and ensure that all participants know that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated.

In addition to developing policies against workplace violence, panic buttons and other safety devices can help healthcare leadership keep employees safe during threatening situations like violence. Safety wearables like the The Kwema Smart Badge™ allows healthcare staff to quickly activate a security protocol when in danger and send their exact indoor location which reduces the response time. Employees just have to hold a duress button for three seconds to quickly contact your security staff, reducing injuries, saving precious time, and increasing the sense of safety in any healthcare facility.








  • Chris Marciano

    Workplace violence is never really a concern for healthcare professionals or any business for that matter until something bad actually happens.

    To keep yourself safe, Pay attention to exits, don’t put yourself in a position that you can’t escape. Identify what can be utilized as weapons in the room you are in. This idea is twofold, one for you to protect yourself if needed, but secondly, to be sure the other person doesn’t use it against you. Learn to trust your gut instincts or intuition, if it feels like it’s wrong, it most likely is. Also, individually, focus on your self-confidence, the more we believe in ourselves the more likely we are to win any aggressive situation. Facing your fears, even the smallest ones build confidence and personal growth. In case you wanted to read more I wrote a blog post on the 10 ways to face our fears.


  • Sheila

    This is a great button But a recent event a nurse was getting assaulted and security couldn’t taz because he didn’t have a weapon (aren’t hands and feet weapons anymore)? Also many security are hands off?

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