Employers have a duty to protect their employees from violence. When they fail to do so, they open themselves up to lawsuits or fines.
According to the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Security Hospital, the state's largest psychiatric facility, recently agreed to pay fines for injuries sustained by employees. The injuries occurred from violence by patients at the facility.
The hospital reached an agreement with Minnesota OSHA to pay $20,000 in fines to settle the charges, which alleged employees were exposed to the risk of serious injury or death. The fines were the result of 10 violations of workplace safety rules in 2014 and 2015.
In addition to the fines, the state of Minnesota will also be required to spend $35,980 to improve safety training and equipment at the facility.
This particular hospital has a history of patient assaults. While the number of assaults has fallen, the risk for injury is still high. According to the Star Tribune story, hospital employees have reported 32 injuries from aggressive employees through August of this year. This is a drop from 100 incidents in 2014 and 71 in 2014.
Specific incidents in recent years include a patient killing another patient in May 2014, and a security counselor suffering a traumatic brain injury from an assault by a patient last year.
Cases like this show what happens when an employer fails to protect its employees from injury. In this circumstance, the injuries were caused by violent attacks. Regardless of the situation, workers have a right to work in a safe environment, and employers will be held responsible when that right is violated.