Environmental evaluation for workplace violence in healthcare and social services

J Safety Res. 2008;39(2):237-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2008.02.028. Epub 2008 Mar 26.


Problem: Federal policy recommends environmental strategies as part of a comprehensive workplace violence program in healthcare and social services. The purpose of this project was to contribute specific, evidence-based guidance to the healthcare and social services employer communities regarding the use of environmental design to prevent violence.

Method: A retrospective record review was conducted of environmental evaluations that were performed by an architect in two Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects for workplace violence prevention in 2000 and, in the second project in 2005. Ten facility environmental evaluation reports along with staff focus group reports from these facilities were analyzed to categorize environmental risk factors for Type II workplace violence.

Results: Findings were grouped according to their impact on access control, the ability to observe patients (natural surveillance), patient and worker safety (territoriality), and activity support.

Discussion: The environmental assessment findings reveal design and security issues that, if corrected, would improve safety and security of staff, patients, and visitors and reduce fear and unpredictability.

Impact on industry: Healthcare and social assistance employers can improve the effectiveness of violence prevention efforts by including an environmental assessment with complementary hazard controls.

MeSH terms

  • Crime / prevention & control
  • Environment Design*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Sector*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety Management*
  • Social Work*
  • Violence / prevention & control*
  • Workplace*