New WorkSafe Guidance – Violence in the health and disability sector
Health and Safety / 21 August 2020
WorkSafe New Zealand has published a new Good Practice Guide titled “Violence in the health and disability sector” (Guide). The Guide is for the health and disability sector and assists duty holders to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act (Act) and regulations.
‘Violence’ is broadly defined in the Guide, to include:
- physical assault (including biting, spitting, scratching, tripping, and grabbing)
- verbal abuse
- psychological/emotional abuse
- use of weapons
- threats of harm and intimidation
- gender-based abuse
- sexual harassment, abuse, and assault
- racial abuse
In the Guide, WorkSafe continues to encourage the use of the PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT approach, setting out reasonably practicable control measures for consideration including facility design, patient/client assessment, staffing levels, training, leadership, policies, emergency planning. It notes that control measures cannot be at the expense of either worker safety or patient access to healthcare.
Message for Employers
While WorkSafe’s guides are not legally binding, they provide a useful reference for developing or reviewing systems of safe work. In addition to providing industry guidance for the health and disability sector, this Guide will likely be useful for any PCBU which has assessed violence as a risk to workers.
If you need assistance reviewing your health and safety systems or how to deal with violence in the workplace, please contact a member of our team.
Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.