Workplace Violence, Bullying and Stress

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) define workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace. Violence includes overt and covert behaviors ranging in aggressiveness from verbal harassment to murder (NIOSH 1996, OSHA 1996). Workplace violence occurs in numerous health care settings from med/surg and ED to ambulatory care and behavioral health units.

The health care sector leads all other industries, with 45% of all nonfatal assaults against workers resulting in lost work days in the US (US Bureau of Labor Statistics – BLS, 2006). In its annual Workplace Safety Index, Liberty Mutual cites assaults and violent acts as the 10th leading cause of nonfatal occupational injury in 2002, representing about 1% of all workplace injuries and a cost of $400 million (Liberty Mutual 2004). The incidence of violence is likely far greater than that which is reported due to inadequate reporting mechanisms and victims’ fear of isolation, embarrassment, and reprisal (source ANA). Click here to read more.

Click on the following links to view resources and information about preventing workplace violence in health care.

Incivility and Bullying

Bullying – also known as horizontal or lateral violence - among nurses and other members of the health care team is a major threat to the nursing workforce. Consider that 70% of nurses report working with nurses or other staff who are insulting, disrespectful, or rude, 60% of recently graduated nurses leave their first position within six months partly as a result of lateral violence and bullying and work environments where bullying exists have significantly increased rates of medical errors and adverse patient outcomes.

Follow the links below to learn more about how to address lateral violence in your workplace:

Dealing with Workplace Stress

Nursing often requires coping with some of the most stressful situations found in any workplace. Nurses must deal with life-threatening injuries and illnesses complicated by overwork, under staffing, tight schedules, paperwork, intricate or malfunctioning equipment, complex hierarchies of authority and skills, dependent and demanding patients, and patient deaths; all of these contribute to stress.

The following are links to information about identifying and addressing occupational stress in health care: