Healthcare workers are at a disproportionate risk for violence in the workplace than those in other industries. In a study by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), of approximately 25,000 workplace assaults committed annually, 75 percent happened in healthcare or social service environments. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that healthcare workers are four times more likely to require time away from work due to violence-related injuries than other types of injuries.

Workplace violence in healthcare facilities has significant impacts on workers and organizations. The consequences may include physical and psychological injuries to employees, disability claims, workdays lost per year, the cost of disability or fatal benefits paid out, potential legal costs, and the cost of retraining workers who have been injured for new or modified jobs. Violence in the workplace also has negative impacts on staff morale and can result in a decrease in staff productivity.

Protecting healthcare workers with technology

Technological advances in real-time location systems (RTLS) offer solutions that increase the safety and security of healthcare workers. Specifically designed for healthcare staff, the new GuardRFID® Wi-Fi Staff Duress solution is a duress call system that allows healthcare workers to summon help if they are verbally or physically attacked. The system offers an alternative, Wi-Fi choice to the existing GuardRFID Staff Duress solution which uses the  433 MHz Active RFID wireless radio frequency band.

Accessible and immediate communication

In the healthcare environment staff are most often assaulted by their own patients/clients and their families. Due to the nature of the work—which involves close interactions—healthcare professionals require an alarm system that is discrete, lightweight, and easily accessible.

Using the GuardRFID Wi-Fi Staff Duress solution, personnel wear a lightweight, badge-shaped ST-4-WIFI tag with call button support. This Wi-Fi RFID tag can be worn on a lanyard for easy access.

Should the employee face a threatening situation, they simply press the call button on the tag. An alarm is immediately sent and a series of actions results. These actions can be pre-programmed into the system. For instance, a notification can alert authorized personnel—such as a security guard—of the employee’s distress call. Or, an audible alarm may be set off to assist in diffusing the situation.

A centralized system

The GuardRFID Wi-Fi Staff Duress solution offers centralized monitoring, so that the employee in distress can be quickly pinpointed in the facility, and assistance provided immediately. Utilizing the existing Wi-Fi network in conjunction with GuardRFID exciters, the ST-4-WIFI tag reveals the location of the employee via the system’s AllGuard® software. By leveraging a facility’s existing Wi-Fi network, there are cost savings related to the setup and operation of the solution, compared to the 433 MHz Staff Duress system.

The system is customizable to target the unique needs of each organization. As an enterprise-grade solution, the GuardRFID Wi-Fi Staff Duress system may be installed on a centralized server, which enables employees to move between multiple locations and facilities without having to reprogram their tag or require extra data entry. Additionally, the solution integrates with existing hospital systems to run simultaneously as part of a larger facility strategy, and workplace safety plans.

Improving the safety and wellness of staff

An environment that is free from workplace violence benefits not only the healthcare workers, but their patients and families, and the entire healthcare facility. By eliminating or minimizing the potential for psychological or physical injuries, the GuardRFID Wi-Fi Staff Duress solution lowers operational costs.

The psychological benefits of creating a safe environment means that organizations are more likely to retain staff, increase productivity, and build positive staff morale.

A next-generation RTLS tag

The advanced ST-4-WIFI tag has a number of features that make it an exceptional choice for a healthcare environment. Each tag has 2-way communication for paging capability, two configurable buttons, a built-in pull-duress alarm and a fall detection sensor. The ST-4-WIFI tag has the ability to receive an alert or acknowledgement from the AllGuard system, and will show the notification via an indicator light and/or sound on the tag. Powered by an internal, wireless rechargeable battery, the tag has an internal motion detector which automatically adjusts the beacon rate and manages power consumption.

Violence in healthcare facilities is underreported, and research indicates that as much as 75 percent of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults are reported annually in health care and social service settings. A responsive, real-time staff safety system has the potential to be a significant part in reducing workplace violence through a robust workplace safety program.


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