The Importance of a Safe Work Environment for Nursing Professionals

As a nurse working in a med-surg unit, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a new notice board on the wall of the nursing station. It read: “Our workers have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times. We have a zero tolerance policy for physical assault, verbal harassment, abusive language, and threats. Failure to comply may result in removal from our facility and prosecution from law enforcement.” This notice not only motivated me but also made me feel secure and dignified in my job.

A safe and respectful work environment is crucial for all employees, especially for those working in high-stress jobs like nursing. In my over a decade of experience as a nurse, I have observed that verbal abuse is a common form of workplace violence that occurs in the healthcare industry. This type of abuse can have significant impacts on the mental and emotional well-being of the victim, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep and eating problems, anger, and even self-harm and suicide.

In the United States, I have noticed a zero tolerance policy for verbal abuse, harassment, and physical assault for healthcare professionals. This policy is strictly enforced, and if a patient or their family member tries to verbally abuse an employee, the employee can immediately call for security assistance. This has made the work environment in the U.S. more secure, safe and respectful for employees, contributing to their overall confidence and job satisfaction.

woman inside laboratory

For an organization to provide its employees with a safe work environment, it’s important to clearly define acceptable and unacceptable behavior and have a reporting and investigation system in place to address any incidents that occur. Continuous training and education for employees, including self-defense and emergency response, can also help reduce the likelihood of workplace violence.

I have also worked in Nepal where I have witnessed situations of verbal abuse, harassment, and physical assault against nurses. This is a major concern that needs to be addressed. Adopting and strictly implementing a zero tolerance policy for physical assault, verbal harassment, abusive language, and threats can create a safe and respectful work environment for all employees.

Additionally, providing appropriate support and follow-up to victims, witnesses, and others affected by workplace violence, including psychological counseling, is also important. Monitoring and evaluating workplace violence reduction initiatives can also help create a healthy work environment that allows nurses to provide the best possible care to their patients. A safe and respectful workplace can increase worker satisfaction and productivity, contributing to the success of the organization.