Workplace Safety

Massachusetts hospitals serve communities by providing medically necessary care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To meet their mission, hospitals are open and accessible to all members of the public. As such, staff, patients, and family members of patients may unfortunately be subject to incidences of violence within the hospital setting despite hospitals' best efforts.

Massachusetts hospitals have been, and remain committed to, working with their staff and patients to review internal systems, develop policies and programs to prevent violence in the workplace, and respond to each and every incident. In Massachusetts, the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) have issued guidance and information for entities like hospitals to develop workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans. The main accrediting agency for hospitals – the Joint Commission – recognizes the need for facilities to protect against workplace violence; it has issued guidance and standards that hospitals have used to update existing practices. In addition, federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance and information that hospitals and other providers review regularly.

Despite all the information available, and the extensive work that hospitals and other providers have done, new challenges and safety concerns continually arise. Through this webpage, the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) endeavors to provide its members resources they may use to supplement and improve their own workplace violence prevention plans. Listed below are some key resources you may find informative on the issue. Overtime, MHA will update this webpage with additional resources.

How can Hospitals and Health Systems Prevent Violence?

Hospitals are increasingly identifying violence as a community health need. In a review of community health needs assessments from 2011–2014, the Health Research & Educational Trust found that 23 percent of hospitals identified violence as a community health need. Hospitals can interrupt the cycle of violence by integrating violence prevention strategies at three levels:

Primary — stopping violence before it occurs
Secondary — immediate responses to violence through emergency and inpatient medical care
Tertiary — long-term responses to violence to address trauma and rehabilitate perpetrators

Massachusetts Laws and Regulations

Chapter 3 of the Acts of 2013 – Approved in February 2013, the state law outlined the general requirements on developing workplace safety standards as well as directed the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to create regulations outlining expectations for EOHHS contracted entities.

101 CMR 19.00: Workplace Violence Prevention and Crisis Response Plan – The February 2015 EOHHS regulations govern the procedures and criteria for workplace violence prevention and crisis response plans within EOHHS contracted entities.

Massachusetts Executive Orders

Executive Order 511 established the Massachusetts Employee Safety and Health Advisory Committee.

National and Other Federal Guidance and Related Information:

The Joint Commission – The Joint Commission is the premier accrediting organization for hospitals and has issued two guidance documents on workplace safety:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)


General Industry Guidance

Minnesota healthcare interests – from the state’s Department of Health to the Minnesota Hospital Association, among others – created this “gap analysis” to help healthcare facilities implement best practices to prevent violence within hospitals.

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