Public Employee Press
Union cites progress in workplace violence program
In every workplace in every New York City agency, union safety experts and their management counterparts are conducting walkthrough inspections to weigh the risks of violence.
The state-mandated Workplace Violence Prevention Program requires the risk assessments. The goal is for employee representatives and management to jointly identify potential sources of risk and make changes to prevent future problems. Principal Program Coordinator Lillian Goodwine of DC 37's Safety and Health Dept. has been assessing risks in hospital facilities, such as the Belvis Treatment Center in the South Bronx, where her March 19 walkthrough identified several areas in need of action.
"Management there is committed to correcting problems, and we reached agreement that they would install mirrors in some hallways that have cameras but blind spots," she said. "Some areas need higher counters, and they need to increase the power of the outdoor illumination."
The assessments are complete at the Human Resources Administration. "Labor and management are reviewing concerns that have been raised," Goodwine said, "and they've implemented some of our requests."
Principal Program Coordinator Guille Mejia said the union's safety staff have been overwhelmed by the number of workplaces and the need to coordinate visits with the agencies. "But now, after two years at this, we are seeing some successes."
At the Dept. of Design and Construction, where employees had been going into the field without phones, she said, "Communication devices have now been secured," and the Dept. of Environmental Protection has improved security measures and lighting.
There are a lot of workplace violence incidents at hospitals, Mejia noted, with Harlem Hospital reporting 49 incidents in 2010. The facility has now connected all its communication devices to the hospital police and installed Panic Buttons throughout the Emergency Room area, she said, "So it's clear that these inspections and changes are a good thing."