With all the talk of terrorism and
weapons of mass destruction, the whole concept of security has taken
on a new meaning in society today. Of course, those issues are
important, but in the veterinary practice, the concept of security
is a little more “down to earth.” As with any business, the
veterinary practice is susceptible to robbery or burglary. The staff
of the practice are susceptible to personal assaults or even
homicide. Of course, other businesses such as convenience stores
have a much higher risk of these acts of violence than does a
veterinary hospital; however, as with any business that exchanges
money or employs people, veterinary hospital staff members can be
the target of selective or random acts of violence. We've covered
this topic before, but we think it's time to revisit issue.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicide is the second leading cause of death to American workers (automobile accidents account for the majority of job-related deaths.) According to the Department of Justice, there are over 1 million people assaulted at work each year. Those incidents include an average of 615,160 simple assaults, 264,174 aggravated assaults, 79,109 robberies and 13,068 rapes.
When we think of workplace violence, we usually envision the "run-amok" employee scenario, but that's actually the rare event in the veterinary profession. Robbery, random acts of violence, estranged partners of employees and even irate clients are more likely scenarios for which the practice must prepare. In 1999, we even experienced a double homicide in a Maryland veterinary practice during a robbery.
several guidance documents to help understnad and prevent workplace
violence. Although these
recommendations are primarily aimed at convenience stores and
similar establishments, there are plenty of useful ideas for the
traditional and emergency veterinary practice. These recommendations
do not carry the weight of a specific standard or requirement;
however, OSHA’s General Duty Clause (section 5 of the Occupational
Safety & Health Act) requires all employers to take any reasonable
steps necessary to protect their employees from hazards that are
likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
So, given the risks and the means to prevent the problem, it’s very appropriate and practical to make a veterinary practice safer from random acts of violence or even robbery.
In 2013, homicide was the leading cause of death for women in the workplace. It was the second leading cause of death for all American workers (automobile accidents continie to be the first leading cause of death on the job in America).