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Creating a safer workplace

While the incidence of workplace violence in healthcare organizations escalates nationwide, Yale New Haven Health is taking steps to create a safe environment for employees, patients and visitors. 

“As an employer of choice, one of our most important goals is to provide a safe work environment for our employees,” said Jodie Boldrighini, vice president, Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing, YNHHS. “Yale New Haven has a zero tolerance for workplace violence.”

The Workplace Aggression and Violence Prevention Policy, accessible from the “Policies” link on the intranet, affirms that YNHHS supports an environment that is safe from threats, acts of violence or aggression and any behaviors intended to intimidate or create fear. Workplace violence includes verbal abuse (foul, offensive, biased or sexual language) and physical abuse (pushing, slapping, punching, spitting and kicking.) 

Throughout April, designated as National Workplace Violence Prevention Month, YNHHS rolled out a Workplace Violence Prevention educational campaign to build awareness and offer guidance to employees on how to identify, address and prevent workplace violence incidents. 

Each week, the Workplace Violence Prevention Education Committee distributed Prevent Workplace Violence “tip sheets” covering topics such as the importance of situational awareness and self-awareness; communication and de-escalation tactics; the significance of knowing your surroundings; and more.

“Our goal is to increase education and prevention. We want to create a safe environment by empowering employees with tools to keep themselves safe,” said Mark Sevilla, RN, YNHHS advisor on workplace violence and member of the Workplace Violence Prevention Education Committee. “We also want employees to realize workplace violence is not an acceptable part of the job.”  

In addition to education and awareness, there are several initiatives under way throughout the health system to address workplace violence. The System Workplace Violence Prevention Committee, with representation from each delivery network, is focused on reducing incidents of workplace violence. Additionally, the committee is developing work groups to address the specific concerns of prevention and management of high-risk patients; peer support teams; education and training; and data collection and analysis of workplace violence incidents.

“Employees cited workplace safety as a concern in last year’s employee engagement survey,” said Boldrighini. “We want to ensure employees know that the health system is looking out for their safety and wellbeing. We will continue to develop these and other initiatives aimed at reducing and eliminating any and all incidents of workplace violence at Yale New Haven Health System.”