Employers are required to protect their workers against workplace hazards, including violence, and when that doesn’t happen, companies can face trouble with OSHA. A Lakeland, FL, health management company was recently cited for two violations after a mental health coordinator was fatally stabbed by one of her clients.
The victim, Stephanie Ross, 25, was attacked while conducting a visit to a client’s home to perform a face-to-face hospitalization risk assessment in December 2012. Witnesses observed a screaming Ross running onto the street from Luscious Smith’s home. They then saw her being stabbed multiple times by a man wielding a butcher knife.
Smith, 53, who has been charged with first-degree murder, has been found unfit to stand trial. He could face trial at a later date if his mental health improves.
Ross had previously filed case notes stating that she was uncomfortable in Smith’s presence and would prefer to not go to his home alone again. Smith has a serious and violent criminal record, which includes spending several years in prison on a conviction of aggregated battery with a deadly weapon. It’s not known whether Ross knew of Smith’s criminal past or simply felt nervous in his presence.
Ross’s employer, Integra Health Management of Owings Mills, MD, was cited for one serious violation of exposing employees to incidents of violent behavior resulting in death. One other-than-serious violation alleging the company’s failure to report the workplace fatality was also cited. Proposed penalties for the two violations total $10,500.
“This incident could have been prevented if the employer had a comprehensive, written workplace violence prevention program to address hazards and assist employees when they raise concerns about their safety,” says Teresa Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator for the Southeast.
Integra Health Management conducts mental and physical health assessments and coordinates healthcare for members through community service coordinators working from their homes or in the field.
The Workplace Violence Compliance Center can help you protect workers from risks of violence at the workplace.
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