New Item: New York-based Montefiore Medical Center fined for workplace violence violations – Healthcare Finance News

Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

Montefiore Medical Center, an academic medical center in New York City that’s part of the Montefiore Health System, has been hit with a fine from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration after it found that numerous employees, including nurses and technicians, were exposed to workplace violence.

The hospital was fined more than $17,000 – about $13,600 for failing to protect employees and another $4,000 for incomplete and inaccurate illness incident reports.

The lack of adequate safeguards, which were highlighted by employee complaints, were found primarily in the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, where OSHA found evidence of exposure to workplace violence.

In some cases, physical assaults from violent patients occurred during one-on-one patient observations, while restraining patients during assaults and attempted escapes, and while performing holds on or restraining patients. The alleged incidents resulted in worker injuries, including broken bones, bites, and neck, back and shoulder injuries. The injuries caused some employees to miss work.

OSHA determined that Montefiore’s workplace violence prevention program was inadequate and lacked effective engineering and administrative controls and employee training to protect workers against the recurring hazard of workplace violence.

The agency cited Montefiore for one serious violation under the general duty clause, for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. OSHA also cited the facility for two less serious violations, for incomplete, inaccurate and untimely injury and illness incident reports.

“This employer ignored repeated episodes of physical assault that put their employees at risk,” said OSHA Area Director Robert T. Garvey in Tarrytown, New York, in a statement. “Employers can and must reduce workplace violence hazards by implementing and maintaining an effective workplace violence prevention program, which is an essential safeguard for these essential workers.”

WHAT’S THE IMPACT

Montefiore Medical Center is an academic medical center and the primary teaching hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. The Montefiore Health System consists of 15 hospitals and a primary and specialty care network of more than 180 locations across Westchester County, the lower Hudson Valley and the Bronx.

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

THE LARGER TREND

Workplace violence in healthcare is an issue that has been exacerbated by the challenges of COVID-19, according to National Nurses United.

A union survey done in November 2020 shows that, of the 15,000 registered nurses nationwide who responded, 20% reported they were facing increased workplace violence. That’s according to Michelle Mahon, assistant director of nursing practice for the professional association of registered nurses, which has more than 170,000 members nationwide. Most of the violence, both physical and verbal, is from patients to staff.

The cost of covering violence-preventing security measures, whether in the form of hiring security staff, installing security infrastructure and providing training for staff, is a big expense, according to an American Hospital Association 2017 Cost of Community Violence to Hospitals and Health Systems report by Milliman.

Milliman analyzed the financial statements of 178 California hospitals and found that about 0.5% of total expenses were dedicated to security costs. This suggests that hospitals spent $4.7 billion on security in 2016 and that $847 million of this cost addresses violence.

The number of hospitals with workplace-violence-prevention programs increased between 2016 and 2018 – from 47.1% in 2016 to 53% in 2017 and 55.5% in 2018, according to another AHA report called the 2020 Environmental Scan.

In a 2015 report, OSHA said that “healthcare and social assistance workers experienced 7.8 cases of serious workplace violence injuries per 10,000 full-time equivalents in 2013. Other large sectors such as construction, manufacturing, and retail all had fewer than two cases per 10,000 FTEs.”
 

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: DUAL NA partners with Munich Re to launch new underwriting platform – Reinsurance News

DUAL North America has partnered with Munich Re Syndicate to launch a new Crisis Management underwriting program offering Product Recall and Contaminated Products Insurance products, starting from this month.

dual-logoThe team will underwrite and provide specialty claims handling for a broad array of Food & Beverage, Agriculture, Consumer Products, and Manufacturing industries.

Worldwide coverages for US-based risks will include Accidental Contamination, Government Recall, Malicious Product Tampering, Product Extortion, Adverse Publicity, Defect, Error in Design, Epidemic Failure, Workplace Violence and more.

The program will be offered by a team of 11 underwriters and a claims professional, who all joined DUAL last year from Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

The team will be led by Mark LeBlanc and Robley Moor, who brought the team to Swiss Re in 2016 followed by Christian Waeldner.

By 2021 when the team moved to DUAL North America, the team had grown to be the largest writer of these Crisis Management products in the U.S. market.

LeBlanc, Managing Principal, Crisis Management, commented: “The DUAL team has been working hard to build top quality carrier support for what will be a unique subscription offering in the US Crisis Management space. We plan to build on the market leadership we demonstrated over the last five years with more products and international reach.

“It was really important to get support from both U.S. and London carriers to provide top service to brokers and insureds in both key markets. DUAL and Howden Group provide the ideal platform for this vision. We look forward to announcing additional partners soon.”

John Johnson, CEO, DUAL North America said: “We are delighted to be launching this product with such a respected partner as Munich Re. The DUAL Crisis Management team is well-known as an industry leader in this space.

“Having an in-house claims expert is a real differentiator in the marketplace that allows us to provide a faster, more thorough service to our clients.

“Between the team’s services and undoubted underwriting expertise, and our partners’ strength, we are excited to continue expanding this offering.”

Dominick Hoare, Chief Underwriting Officer, Munich Re Syndicate said: “We too are excited to be partnering with DUAL on its new program. Having worked with the team previously, we know that they are experts at what they do and that goes for their crisis management experience as well.

“As the chosen carrier in London, we look forward to the opportunity of providing global coverage more effectively for a wide variety of risks, across a number of important industries.”

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: 8 tips for improving physical security in your organization – Security Magazine

Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent by organizations worldwide to protect mission-critical digital investments and provide the essential cybersecurity necessary to keep them safe from outside cyber threats. This is absolutely necessary and amongst some of the most vital best practices recommended for all organizations. However, the element of physical security is one that is oftentimes overlooked or underemphasized.

Physical security is often defined as the protection of personnel, hardware, software, networks and data from physical actions and events that could cause serious loss or damage to an organization. Physical security is a vitally important business practice with many goals: to prevent unauthorized persons from entering a business and causing harm; to protect intellectual property from corporate espionage; and to mitigate workplace violence, among other concerns. Today, organizations must consider physical security as a primary pillar of its cybersecurity strategy. The success of an organization’s physical security program can often be attributed to how well each component is implemented, improved and maintained.

Consider the following tips for enterprise security leaders to improve organizational physical security:

Establish physical security perimeters 

Walls that act as barriers, card-controlled entry doors and staffed reception desks should be used to protect an organization’s facilities. This is especially important for areas that contain sensitive information or the information systems used to process or manage that type of information. Access to data centers or other high-risk areas should require an additional layer of physical access requests and approvals prior to access being granted. Information systems should be located in rooms with doors and windows that are locked when left unattended. External protective measures should also be considered, particularly for offices or other locations at ground level.

Ensure physical entry controls are in place

Secure areas should be protected by appropriate entry controls to ensure that only authorized personnel are permitted access. Physical access to facilities where information systems reside should be monitored using physical intrusion alarms and surveillance equipment to detect potential physical security incidents. Physical access logs should be reviewed at least quarterly. Reviews should also be performed when potential events are identified. If a physical security incident is identified, incident response reports should include all response actions taken. Video cameras or other access control mechanisms should be implemented and secured in order to monitor individual physical access to sensitive areas.

Implement external and environmental threat protection

Physical protection against the damage from fires, floods, earthquakes, explosions, civil unrest and other forms of environmental or human-made disasters should be implemented to protect the organization. Once defined, these controls can be used to protect information systems and personnel. Security leaders should install smoke- or heat-activated fire detectors and alarms, and appropriate fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, should be implemented throughout facilities and within secure areas containing information systems. Water or moisture detection devices should be located in dropped ceilings and within raised floors to detect water leaks or possible flooding. Information systems should be protected from damage resulting from water leaks by ensuring that master shutoff valves are installed, accessible and working properly.

Provide for safe equipment placement and protection

Information systems and devices should be located in secure areas. Equipment needs to be protected to reduce risks from environmental threats and hazards and secured to reduce opportunities for unauthorized access. Adding new infrastructure devices, servers or other systems and tools can impact the performance capabilities of supporting utilities. Enterprise security professionals should perform an assessment prior to installation to ensure the supporting tools and utilities are capable of supporting the new infrastructure or other hardware devices. Physical access should be restricted to wireless access points, gateways, network hardware, communications hardware and telecommunication lines.

Manage supporting utilities

All supporting utilities, such as electricity, natural gas, water supplies, sewage and heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), should be adequate for the systems and personnel they support. These utilities necessitate a suitable electrical supply that meets power requirements defined by equipment manufacturers. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) should be implemented to support the orderly shutdown for equipment that supports critical business operations. Emergency lighting should be installed and regularly tested to ensure it is operating correctly in case of a power failure. Emergency power-off switches should be located near emergency exits in data centers and equipment rooms to facilitate a rapid power down in case of an emergency.

Provide security for power and telecommunications cabling

Power and telecommunications cabling that is in place to support information systems or transfer data should be protected from interception, interference or damage. Enterprise security teams should use clearly identifiable cable markings to minimize potential handling errors, such as the accidental unplugging or movement of incorrect patching or network cables. Physical access to information system distribution and transmission lines should be controlled within an organization’s facilities. Spend the time that is necessary to ensure cables are labeled and neatly organized to prevent unintentional errors. A short-term project to address cabling today will help prevent countless issues tomorrow.

Secure information assets while off-premises

Computers, peripherals, paperwork, reports, software or other information assets belonging to an organization should not be taken offsite without prior authorization. Security professionals should deploy full-disk encryption on all laptops. Information assets remain the property of an organization even when they are off-premises. Personnel should be trained that these assets should not be used by family members or friends. This unauthorized use may introduce not only technical risks, but also potential risks to the confidentiality of data contained on devices due to improper viewing of information by unauthorized audiences. All personnel need to be responsible, and held accountable, for all actions performed on or with the information assets that are assigned to them.

Protect physical media in transit

Media containing information needs to be protected against unauthorized access, misuse and corruption during transportation beyond the organization’s physical boundaries. Media should be encrypted prior to being moved offsite. A complete inventory of all physical media that is transferred outside of the organization should be maintained. If an organization uses an offsite archiving or long-term storage provider, the business should require the provider to submit an inventory of organizational media on a recurring basis. Additionally, the security controls in place at the provider’s facility should be tested at least annually.

Security leaders should ensure that a comprehensive physical security program is developed and implemented consistently across the organization. Organizations that do not could potentially overlook a pivotal security function or leave a physical security vulnerability unaddressed. By developing a comprehensive physical security program supported by all organizational stakeholders, organizations can avoid key physical control pitfalls for effective overall security.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Shoplifting, Organized Retail Theft Lead to No Easy Answers – WWD – WWD

“Just how bad is it?”

Already burdened with shipping delays, employment issues, inflation and ongoing worries over COVID-19, retailers are increasingly concerned about upticks in thefts and, more importantly, how to curb the behavior.

In recent months reports and viral videos of varying degrees of theft — including smash-and-grab heists by groups in luxury boutiques — have catapulted the issue to the forefront.

Factors like understaffed stores, employee theft, the abundance of online marketplaces to unload stolen merchandise, increasingly sophisticated criminals, lenient penalties and a collective anger among some have ratcheted up theft concerns in certain cities.

While shoplifting has been part of doing business for generations of stores, the problem with theft now — including shoplifting and organized retail crime — is not only that it’s costly, but it has led law enforcement officials to caution that it can fund other crimes, such as the drug trade.

In its 2021 Retail Security Survey, the National Retail Federation reported that 82 percent of respondents said risks and threats of mall or store violence and shooting incidents are more of a priority compared to five years ago. The report noted that there is no federal law to prevent organized retail theft. Yet more than 66 percent of respondents said the pandemic has increased risks for their organizations, with workplace violence topping the list at 61 percent and organized retail crime at 57 percent. The average retail robbery in 2020 netted more than $7,500 in product — a figure not seen since 2015.

While the median shrink rate for fiscal year 2020 was 1.3 percent, level compared to fiscal-year 2019, the average dollar loss per shoplifting incident was nearly $462 for full-year 2020, compared to $270 in full-year 2019, according to the report.

In 2019, theft and fraud cost retailers $62 billion. The NRF’s vice president of research and development, Mark Matthews, as well as some police officials were hesitant to provide more recent numbers, citing the number of stores closed permanently or temporarily during the pandemic as an example of how statistics may not be a true indicator of the current situation.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials have been trying to crack down on theft via multiagency investigations. Last week state and federal officials in Oklahoma announced that 29 people had been arrested and charged with being involved in a six-state shoplifting ring that stole more than $10 million worth of goods.

Tulsa Police chief Wendell Franklin announces the break up of a large scale theft ring in Tulsa, Okla., Jan. 13.
AP

Last month, Chicago’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force recovered tens of thousands of stolen items worth millions from several storage facilities. That marked the first major bust by the task force, which was spearheaded by attorney general Kwame Raoul. Apparel, beauty products, electronics, food and other items that had been stolen from national retailers were recovered. The public-private collaboration is a first for Illinois and is designed to foster cooperation among retailers, online marketplaces, law enforcement agencies and the state’s attorneys general. Announcing the seizure last month, Raoul said organized retail theft is more than lost revenue and stolen products. “Frequently, the criminal enterprises behind these crimes are connected to other crimes such as the drug trade and human trafficking.”

Damage to the Louis Vuitton store on Nov. 21, 2021, after looters ransacked businesses in San Francisco’s Union Square.
Danielle Echeverria/AP

Over the last few months there has been much publicized footage of shoplifting rings striking luxury stores and other retailers in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area. In late December, San Francisco authorities seized nearly $2 million in suspected stolen merchandise following a two-and-a-half-year investigation into organized retail theft prompted by a series of thefts at Macy’s Union Square in December 2018. Two individuals were arrested and there are arrest warrants for three others with the accused facing organized retail theft, grand theft, possession of stolen property, money laundering and other charges. As a preventive measure, San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin secured funding for two property crime advocates for his office’s victim services division.

In New York City last year, there were 43,864 retail theft complaints compared to 32,358 in 2020 and 37,918 in 2019. Those figures include petty larcenies, grand larcenies and robberies that began as shoplifting, according to a New York Police Department spokesman. Earlier this month at the Americana Manhasset shopping center, masked thieves reportedly stole 20 handbags from the Louis Vuitton store. That case remains under investigation, a Nassau County Police spokesman said last week.

Two days after being sworn in as the newly elected Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg shared a memo detailing that his office will not prosecute low-level offenses such as prostitution, resisting arrest and shoplifting unless they are felonies, which are classified as crimes typically defined by violence and punishable by imprisonment.

Since the news was made public, Bragg has spent a lot of energy defending and explaining his position to “free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crimes.”

Alvin Bragg speaks to supporters in New York, 2021.
Craig Ruttle/AP

According to sources, the crux of the memo has been misinterpreted. The fact that not all shoplifting should be treated equally falls in line with Bragg’s belief that lengthy prison sentences have proven to be ineffective and some offenses are better dealt with through mental health channels or with community service. “It’s like a business,” one source said. “And in these cases, it’s important to go after the people who are funding it. If the kids who do the stealing are incarcerated, the rings will just hire different kids.”

But if thieves are armed, then it’s a felony and will be prosecuted. The advice to retailers is to install surveillance systems so these perpetrators can be apprehended, arrested and held accountable.

Whether the thieves were armed when they hit Rothmans men’s store in New York’s Union Square twice around the holidays, making off with some $20,000 in clothes, is unknown and the store’s owner wasn’t going to find out by resisting. “Merchandise can be replaced, people can’t,” said Ken Giddon, president.

Giddon has gone public with the details of the theft, penning a lengthy Facebook post in hopes of raising awareness of the situation and appearing in stories in the local press.

“My store, Rothmans on 18th and Park, was ransacked/robbed by the same group of young men, TWICE in the last two weeks of December 2021. I am not quite sure what the term is when a gang of thieves (five the first time, eight the second time) brazenly tears apart a store, punches a 61-year-old employee in the face, and grabs as much merchandise ($20,000 worth) as they can carry out. They were not particularly troubled by their actions, and figured that a repeat performance, since there were no repercussions, was a good idea,” he wrote.

“We called the police both times, but the group was long gone before any help could arrive. They had getaway cars parked down the block. The police were professional and sympathetic. They said it was happening all over the city, but their message was very clear. Do not engage, the perpetrators probably have weapons, and even if you stop them, or we arrest them, nothing will happen. You will waste your time in the system, and they will not be penalized.”

Giddon said although he has insurance, not everything is covered and there’s a deductible. Once a claim is submitted, his premiums are raised and he stands the risk of being dropped by his insurance company. “It’s a regressive tax on retailers: higher insurance premiums and added security,” Giddon said.

Last week Giddon said the new district attorney actually called him out of the blue to discuss the issue. He reemphasized his points and suggested the city create a task force to address the problem. Sources said New York City is in the process of creating just such a task force of small business owners and will announce it shortly.

But it’s not just New York where shoplifting is an issue.

Before Christmas, a gunfight at Chicago’s Oakbrook Center left four people injured. And in November, Chicago police presence was increased after 14 people stormed through a Louis Vuitton store in the shopping center, running off with a reported $150,000 in merchandise. A Chicago police department spokeswoman declined to provide any statistics about thefts and referred any comment about the issue of shoplifting to the Organized Retail Crime Task Force.

Understaffing continues to be in an issue for the police force in Portland, Ore., which was rocked in the past two years by protests and vandalism. Sergeant Kevin Allen said: “Shoplifting, both petty theft as well as organized retail theft rings, has been a big problem for many years both in Portland and around the country. We recognize the challenge it places on retail businesses both large and small. We have dedicated officers, who respond to calls every day and conduct investigations, as time and call load allow. But the truth is that we are not the police department that we used to be, and some services that we used to provide are not happening anymore.…The Police Bureau is the smallest it has been in modern times.”

A Nike store in downtown Portland, Ore. was protected with wooden panels last summer because of ongoing protests.
Paula Bronstein/AP

The Portland Business Alliance is seeing a rise in shoplifting and break-ins at retail stores throughout the city, senior director of strategic communications Vanessa Briseno said. “Retailers and office buildings are having to take costly measures to curb crime and ‘harden’ their stores [with reinforced security glass, interior and exterior security gates and more sophisticated cameras and alarm systems]. Many of these features, especially for office buildings, are quite common in other cities, but we have not had to install them until now.”

Noting that more PPB members will be retiring and resigning in the coming months, Allen said hiring will not keep pace with that demand. The Portland City Council recently authorized additional funding to help with the problem, including hiring back retired officers and increasing recruitment. With training taking 18 months, Allen said: “We will not be able to recruit, train and deploy officers faster than we expect to lose them for a while. In the meantime, we are going to have to ask for our community’s patience in dealing with situations [such as shoplifting and organized retail theft]. We look forward to a day when we can more effectively address public safety issues at a level that the community expects.”

The Target Store in San Francisco where a woman was arrested after allegedly stealing more than $40,000 worth of merchandise over the course of 120 visits.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez/AP

While videos of other smash-and-grab thefts in luxury boutiques in California went viral last month on the news and social media, the problem of organized theft is not restricted to designer merchandise. Last month the Seattle Police Department arrested 35 people in an organized shopping ring after they stole thousands of dollars of merchandise from a downtown Target store. Those arrested were later released. The incident shows that high-ticket items aren’t always what thieves are after — Seattle police recently made an arrest and recovered two or three dozen pairs of $25 Old Navy jeans, said Sergeant Randall Huserik.

“Our trend isn’t toward bigger-ticketed items, but toward a lot of smaller-ticketed items in these crazy mass quantities. We’ve had situations where people are going into Ulta, Victoria’s Secret and places like that and stealing thousands and thousands of dollars of lingerie or makeup. It was quite obvious when you looked at the person that we arrested that this stuff is not going to fit you. You’re clearly not stealing it for yourself,” he said. “But it’s those items that can’t be traced through a serial number or a model number that can easily be turned around and resold.”

Huserik also noted that some of the incidents in Chicago and the Bay Area featured groups of up to 50 people.

As for the root cause of such thefts, he speculated about the proliferation of online marketplaces that makes selling stolen merchandise easier. “Certainly, technology has enhanced criminal activities in so many ways,” he said.

A major key to figuring out how to improve the problem of theft will require determining the reasons people are doing it. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention focuses on providing educational programs to the court system to prevent recidivism. Director of communications Barbara Staib said: “Our concern is that societally, we’ve gotten to a place where we’ve minimized the gravity of theft to such a degree that that is what allows people to say, ‘Hey, let’s get together and go rob Gucci.’”

Established in 1989 as a nonprofit, the association has worked with thousands of criminal justice professionals through the years and has educated between 750,000 and one million shoplifting offenders. “That’s just a drop in the bucket in the number of people that we need to reach,” Staib said. “Retailers are the first touch point with shoplifters. They apprehend them. Since the courts aren’t doing as much as they could and the police aren’t coming [as frequently], it’s harder to rely on the criminal justice system to educate offenders…we need to start looking at nontraditional ways. One of those ways is for retailers to get involved, and not prosecute and arrest low-level offenders. Don’t waste those precious resources on that if you can use education. But it has to be a onetime chance. It can’t be a revolving door. That is what we are working on now.”

Now that thresholds have been raised in the majority of U.S. states, and overburdened police and prosecutor resources are looking to reduce their involvement in petty-level crimes, Staib said: “This is what leads to the advent and continuation of organized retail crime. And gangs decide that shoplifting is worth the risk and I’m going to do my best to make a living at. Then it grows into organized groups stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars [of merchandise]. And the advent of online marketplaces made it easier.”

Unlike 15 years ago, when thieves would have had to find a fence — someone to help them sell their stolen merchandise on the black market or via a flea market – now they can build an online store and sell the stolen goods to the “unsuspecting public that is just looking to get a bargain,” Staib said. While the NASP supports criminal justice reform, its concern is that the rush to do so is leading to the removal of traditional protective factors like police interdiction and prosecution — “the threat of punishment” — without replacing that with social and educational options, she said.

California’s state law Prop 47, which was passed in 2014, set the threshold for shoplifting at $950. The city of Dallas mandated years ago that it would not respond to any theft at less than $50. “Then they decided that that was so good at reducing crime, because they weren’t going out. It’s not that crime was being reduced. Then they raised it to $100,” Staib said. “This is a dangerously empowering message to society and even more empowering to would-be offenders or those who are prone to this type of activity.” Dallas Police officials acknowledged a media request, but did not follow up.

To stem the tide, the NASP is working with retailers to set standards to offer education to first-time nonviolent, cooperative offenders to change their behavior. “All our cities are seeing a rushing waterfall of crime. We’ve got to deal with it with things like the Reform Act to address the anonymity of the online marketplaces for ORC and groups that will prosecute cases across jurisdictions,” Staib said.

Some retailers have indicated in talks with NRF officials that there was a move to more multichannel fraud, since it was harder to be in stores during COVID-19. Having asked retailers if they experienced higher levels of retail theft so far this year compared to 2020, 75 percent said it was either significantly or somewhat higher, Matthews said.

Many vendors and software developers are creating products to help address shoplifting and other problems, he said. Retailers are taking a closer look at point-of-sale analytics and point-of-sale data mining. Adopting fingerprint technology, for example, is among the undertakings. “Obviously though that isn’t going to address the issues we see in some states of people rushing into stores, grabbing things and running out. When it comes to organized retail crime and smash-and-grabs obviously that’s a different kettle of fish,” Matthews said.

Based on NRF reports, Matthews said one of the more concerning things is that everyone said it’s becoming more violent. “That is hugely concerning. When you think about the workforce, it’s really problematic. That’s why it’s so important for us to get policy solutions in place so that retailers can work more effectively with law enforcement and state and local officials,” Matthews said.

Through its own Loss Prevention Council, which is comprised of senior leaders in that sector who regularly meet, the NRF has “certainly heard that this is more of a problem or something that they are concerned about. And it is something that they are increasing their budget to address,” he said, adding that more than 60 percent of survey respondents had done so.

Protecting the safety of employees is something that weighs heavily on retailers, he said. Companies are putting together training programs so that staffers know how to deal with such circumstances to know firsthand what company policies are and how to respond. From Matthews’ standpoint, people fail to understand the quantum of the impact of shoplifting.

“The problem is that retail is an industry where the margins have historically been slim. When you hear about the dollar figures that have been bandied about, they may not sound like huge numbers given that retail is a multitrillion-dollar industry [$3.5 trillion]. But remember that is a multitrillion-dollar industry on a sales basis. Profit margins are much much slimmer. If you’re losing a portion of those sales to shoplifting, that comes straight off the bottom line,” he said. “…They forget it is a low-margin industry, it impacts employees and the investments that companies have to make. It all adds up.”

While technologies are being developed and retailers are trying new practices to try to improve the situation, Matthews said creating legislation that would aid federal, state and local agencies with information sharing, more funding for policing stores and additional resources to target and root out organized retail crime and their involvement in loss and shoplifting are needed.

At a Boston area luxury shopping center, one security guard patrolling the concourse said that shoplifting incidents were about the same as last year. One change though is that the mall’s mask requirement has emboldened some people to shoplift, since masks make it more difficult to be identified, he said.

The practice of using velvet ropes or airport-like barriers at the entrance of luxury boutiques may have started as a pandemic-related precaution, but they are multifunctional. Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin and Dior are among the numerous stores at Boston’s Copley Place that are using the barriers. As one security guard at the entrance to a European designer store said of the front-door barrier, “Simply, if someone steals something, I can stop them easier.”

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Pakistan’s New Law Aims to Protect Women in Workplace – Human Rights Watch

Pakistan’s parliament has passed a bill that significantly strengthens protections for women in the workplace against violence and harassment. The new law, drafted by the Ministry of Human Rights with extensive input from women rights groups and lawyers, amends the far weaker 2010 law.

The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2022, enacted January 14, expands the definition of workplaces to encompass both formal and informal workplaces, bringing it closer to the definition set out in the 2019 International Labour Organization (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention (C190), which Pakistan has not ratified. The new legislation specifically includes domestic workers, who are often isolated and marginalized, and as a result can be at greater risk of workplace violence and harassment.

The new law includes an expanded definition of harassment that includes “discrimination on the basis of gender, which may or may not be sexual in nature.” The law extends protections against harassment and violence to students, a category excluded by the previous law. It also streamlines the complaints process and includes specific protections to prevent retaliation.

Women’s rights groups in Pakistan have long demanded stronger protections against violence and harassment in the workplace, and this law is an important step toward that. Pakistani women face serious abuse in the workplace and at home, including high rates of rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage. Perpetrators have too often enjoyed impunity because of discrimination. Recent cases that have come to trial have highlighted the obstacles women face in getting justice, with survivors often retraumatized by the legal process.

The real test of the new law will be its full implementation, which requires political will. One way that Pakistan’s government could demonstrate its commitment to ending workplace harassment is by ratifying ILO C190, which provides comprehensive protections and a mechanism to hold countries accountable for upholding them.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Physical Security Technology Keeps Hospital Staff and Patients Safe – HealthTech Magazine

In an industry understandably laser-focused on all things cybersecurity, it can seem as if physical security gets short shrift. But talk to healthcare professionals across the country, or to the leaders of most hospital IT teams, and it quickly becomes clear that’s not the case.

“Hundreds of studies over the past 10 years all say the same thing,” says Paul Sarnese, immediate past president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety. “If you work in healthcare, you’re four to five times more likely to be a victim of aggravated assault than you are in any other occupation.”

That reality and the related threats to patients have led the vast majority of healthcare systems to invest not only in security staff and training but also in improved video surveillance systems.

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In California’s Imperial Valley, El Centro Regional Medical Center sought out Verkada for a cloud-based solution to scale video security across its 165-bed hospital and nine other facilities.

Like many healthcare organizations, the medical center had endured its share of dangerous situations over the years, says Darryl Mark, associate administrator for information services.

“Patients attacking employees, disgruntled family members,” he adds. “We had a lot of incidents where our security team would respond, but we’d rarely have reliable insight into what happened because we didn’t have any cameras set up.”

In late 2019, the healthcare system turned to Verkada and began installing cameras in its outpatient facilities. The process went quickly at first, Mark says, but they were forced to pause as the COVID-19 pandemic picked up. Their final installations, in the hospital itself, are slated for completion in 2021.

Safety and Security at Scale for Healthcare

The new technology has already proved its value where it is in place at El Centro Regional Medical Center, Mark says. At one site, for example, the cameras recorded footage of a visitor stashing contraband in the facility’s bathrooms ahead of a scheduled visit by local prisoners. “Our environmental services people were finding these things, and they had an idea who might have put them there, but they could only remember what the individual was wearing, not what she looked like.”

Using an analytics tool that is part of their Verkada system, staff searched surveillance video with the details they knew, Mark says. “We put in the clothing parameters, and it pulled her right up. Then all we did was send the footage to law enforcement, and they used it as part of their investigation.”

As his team members deal with security during the pandemic, Mark says, they’re always finding new places across the organization where additional cameras are needed.

To handle a recent surge in local infections, for example, they had to put up tents so patients could be seen without having to wait in line inside. “That was a round-the-clock operation, and it required a lot of equipment to make it happen,” he says. But soon after the tents were installed, there were reports of worrisome patient behavior and at least one incident where a visitor tried to steal supplies.

DISCOVER: Why does healthcare need to modernize its physical security strategy?

“Putting cameras there was an easy decision,” Mark says. “But the best part was, it was easy to do.”

Most hospitals, Sarnese adds, had installed cameras well before the pandemic, but “they’re just using them in different ways now, and they’re using them in combination with other technologies.”

A growing number of organizations, for example, are using facial-recognition technology to better control access to restricted spaces.

“And now, with the pandemic, they’re also using it to determine if you’re wearing a mask,” Sarnese says. A visitor who refuses to wear a mask would never make it through the door, he adds, which could prevent a confrontation and the possibility that an argument could turn to something worse.

Better Security Tools for Better Control

At the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, Support Services Director Mark Reed hopes to avoid the trend of rising workplace violence in healthcare.

“We’re definitely dealing with new issues and problems, like people who won’t wear masks and get aggressive,” Reed says. “But we’ve also seen drastic reductions in incidents overall, and that’s probably because of our security program.”

The hospital’s security program was overhauled in 2019, not long before the start of the pandemic. In addition to increased staff training and the hiring of experienced security personnel, the project focused on using state-of-the-art technologies, including two important upgrades to the hospital’s video surveillance system.

Until that point, Reed says, the hospital had relied on a third-party security team to monitor its fleet of Axis Communications network cameras installed in halls and entranceways. But now it hoped to bring camera management in-house and needed a way to do it both affordably and effectively.

“The biggest thing was that our video system wasn’t integrated with our access control system,” Reed says. “We wanted them to be able to talk to each other and not be isolated in their own silos.”

The team was also concerned about operational efficiencies and making the most of the limited resources it had. “It wasn’t realistic to think we could have one person sitting in a room tracking hundreds of video feeds. We realized we needed a certain amount of automation, some programming to do the detection and bring it to our attention.”

Working closely with Axis, the hospital turned to a new video management system that pulled its existing platforms together, and then added an audio analytics tool: a noise detection and classification solution.

Now, when a door alarm sounds, for example, the video feed associated with that door pops up on a screen in the security operations center. And if there are any unusual noises in the area, such as a gunshot or the sound of breaking glass, an officer on duty is alerted to those as well.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve never had a shooting,” Reed says. “But we often pick up on things like agitated patients or upset visitors causing problems in the main lobby.”

In the years before the pandemic when such incidents occurred, security often arrived after the problem threatened to spiral out of control. Today, thanks to the early-warning system, an officer is usually on the scene in a matter of seconds.

“Because we can see it happening in real time, and because we know exactly where we need to go, we’re almost always able to calm things down before that aggression has a chance to escalate,” Reed says.

READ MORE: Enhance physical security with cloud-managed video surveillance.

Physical Security ‘Up and Running’ in the Cloud

Facial-recognition technology is not in the plans at the Mental Health Center of Denver, but the organization does use video surveillance to bolster security across its 36 sites.

Until about three years ago, says Vice President and CIO Wes Williams, the center’s security program relied on three different analog camera systems and a process he describes as “cumbersome.”

The cameras at any given site only connected to the network at that location, and the footage recorded was typically stored on a local computer hard drive. If a site experienced an incident and wanted to send footage to the police, “someone from IT would have to go out to that location, access the recording and put it on a thumb drive or DVD,” Williams says.

The center did away with that approach in 2019 when it replaced the individual systems with a cloud-based solution from Verkada. Now, video is stored directly on the encrypted hard drive that is built in on all of the company’s cameras, and footage is easily retrievable online through a dashboard on a computer at IT headquarters. 

“It’s supereasy to manage and maintain, and it’s also completely scalable,” Williams says.

Whenever the organization adds another building, as it did recently with its new Behavioral Health Solutions Center, “all we have to do is connect the cameras to our network, and that’s it. We’re up and running,” Williams adds.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: Hospitals Need Intensive Care In Face Of Turnover, Burnout And Sick Workers – Kaiser Health News

Hospitals are where patients go in an emergency. But with critical staffing shortages at a time when admissions are surging, it’s health care providers and facilities around the country that are in crisis and in need of solutions.


AP:
Ambulances Wait Hours With Patients At California Hospitals


Emergency health workers in California Wednesday blasted hours-long waits to transfer patients from ambulances to hospital emergency rooms in what they said were chronic delays worsened by the nearly two-year coronavirus pandemic. During a legislative hearing, first responders said taking more than the anticipated 20 minutes to receive a patient at a hospital emergency room isn’t good for the patient and impedes their ability to head out on new emergency calls. Often, they said, they wind up waiting hours at hospitals because no one is available to receive new patients — a problem that doctors and a hospital administrator said stems from delays in lab work, X-rays and insurance authorizations. (Taxin, 1/19)

Hospital staffing shows no sign of improvement —


Stat:
Covid-19 Is No Longer The Biggest Issue Facing Hospitals. Staffing Is 


Health care providers have been the frontline of our nation’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, and they have responded heroically. That said, the initial set of seemingly insurmountable challenges that hospitals had to overcome in every community across the U.S. — like accessing sufficient personal protective equipment so they could safely provide care — have now been replaced with a new problem of epic proportions: a tsunami of staffing and labor challenges. These challenges were the number one issue that CEOs and CFOs from 20 of America’s most prominent health systems shared at this year’s recently concluded 40th Annual J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference. While nearly every industry is currently facing staffing problems, the issue in health care is especially acute due to the demands and burnout associated with being on the frontlines of care throughout the last two years. (Michelson, 1/19)


Anchorage Daily News:
Hundreds Of Alaska Health Care Workers Are Out Sick As Omicron Surge Continues, But Hospitals Are Seeing Fewer Severely Ill Patients


Alaska reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases over the last five days, and hospitals statewide continue to report growing staffing challenges. However, the virus is so far not driving up patient admissions the same way it did in past surges. The previous delta surge in Alaska brought hundreds of sick patients to the state’s hospitals in short succession, many requiring long stays. The omicron variant, which has been shown to be less severe but more contagious, is instead causing more strain on hospitals as a result of staff becoming infected or exposed and needing to stay home, according to Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association president Jared Kosin. More than 250 health care workers were out on Tuesday, either with COVID-19 or a recent exposure, Kosin said. (Krakow and Berman, 1/19)


Oklahoman:
COVID Tears Through State: Oklahoma City Hospitals In Crisis Again


Oklahoma City hospitals are in crisis again. Hospital leaders on Tuesday described how the omicron variant of COVID-19 has pushed them to a breaking point: they’re facing overflowing emergency rooms, shortages of supplies like syringes and saline, and scores of staff illnesses on top of an already depleted workforce. “This time, it feels and sometimes even looks like a war zone,” said Dr. Julie Watson, the chief medical officer of Integris Health. “Cases have risen so rapidly, we have to care for patients in hallways, sometimes closets.” (Branham, 1/19)


AP:
Nevada Enlisting Nursing Students For Hospital Staff Crisis 


With Nevada hospitals reporting a staffing “crisis” and health officials reporting COVID-19 patient tallies at pandemic highs, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak highlighted a program Wednesday to enlist nursing students to help meet the demand for medical providers. (Ritter, 1/20)


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
National Guard Members Embrace Training For Mission To Nursing Homes


Wisconsin National Guard Sgt. Andrew Hemaidan may have settled his career path during the training for his next mission — becoming a nursing aide in order to help relieve the burden on the state’s nursing homes. Hemaidan, 25, is one of 80 guard members who volunteered to undergo the 75-hour course that will allow them to go into nursing homes and work under the direction of registered nurses already in facilities, allowing the facilities to open up more space for patients in need of long-term care. (Schulte, 1/19)

In related news —


Modern Healthcare:
OSHA Fines Montefiore For Workplace Violence Violations


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Montefiore Medical Center for failing to keep workers safe in several incidents, as violence against healthcare workers continues to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. Montefiore will pay $17,555 over its handling of an attack on staff members. In early 2021, a psychiatric patient assaulted multiple workers during observation and during an attempted escape. OSHA said Montefiore had not developed and implemented adequate measures to protect employees from recurring serious hazards, and for not recording injuries properly. (Gillespie, 1/19)


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: The Texas Synagogue Survivors Say Training Was Key. Here’s What You Need to Know – Inc.

Malik Faisal Akram died after taking four people in a Texas Synagogue hostage. All the hostages, thankfully, survived. It’s a horrible scenario that plays out far too often. While it’s unlikely that you will face a terrorist attack, you may be the target of workplace violence, from an angry employee or customer.

The people at Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, Texas credit their survival to training. Lots of training. Rabbi Cytron-Walker said that he and his congregation took extensive security training. ”We are alive today because of that education,” he told news outlets.

What this says to me is: There’s no such thing as being over-prepared–not for a meeting or a presentation and certainly not amid a violent attack. While you might think ensuring your employees’ safety isn’t your job, you’re wrong. Cytron-Walker and his congregation clearly saw the benefit of preparation and you can too.

Here’s what you need to do to prepare for a grave eventuality no one thinks will ever come:

Hire experts to teach you.

There are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch, but that’s not good enough. You need an actual expert to teach you and customize a plan for your office. I took a class this past summer taught by Brenda Neckvatal and Fight Back Nation and when I watched instructors Tim Evancich, Mike Allen, and Neckvatal disarm shooters, it seemed easy and obvious. When they made me come to the front and try, I felt awkward and not confident. It took multiple tries to learn to do it correctly. 

Call the police, but don’t rely on the police to save you

The police will respond quickly, but quickly doesn’t mean instantaneous. As Fight Back Nation teaches, “From the second the first round is fired until the shooter is engaged by law enforcement, YOU are your own first responder.”

Of course, a shot doesn’t have to be fired to make it a critical situation. Congregation Beth Israel had to react differently because their invasion was with someone who wanted to hold hostages, not get revenge. Training can help you distinguish between the situations and increase your chances of survival.

The best way to stop a workplace shooter is to prevent it in the first place.

Jaclyn Schildkraut, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego, says that workplace shooters will give signs over a period of escalation. They will, Schildkraut says, have a “fascination with weapons, they’ll talk about harming themselves, mostly harming other people, they’ll make threats, either directly or indirectly that they’ll come and shoot up the workplace or indirectly like maybe you shouldn’t come to work on Thursday.” 

If you suspect someone is starting the process escalation, Schildkraut recommends getting law enforcement and mental healthcare professionals involved. She says workplace shooters are reacting to grievance–“either real or imaginary.” Taking the time to listen to your employees may help resolve problems before they escalate.

Create a safety plan–and let your employees know.

Thirty percent of employees didn’t know their employers’ safety plans according to a Rave Mobile Safety 2020 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Report. You can have the best possible plan, but if your employees don’t know what it is and practice it, it won’t do any good. Remember those fire drills you had regularly in school? Everyone knows precisely what to do, where to go, and no one panics. This comes from repetition.

Hopefully, you won’t have to worry about someone invading your workplace with a gun, but training for it can save lives.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith

New Item: U.S. Department of Labor Cites Medical Center for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards for Employees – Occupational Health and Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Medical Center for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards for Employees

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Medical Center for Inadequate Workplace Violence Safeguards for Employees

  • By Shereen Hashem
  • Jan 20, 2022

Registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, patient care technicians and security officers provide essential services in healthcare settings. Their work also exposes them to various on-the-job hazards, including assault and other forms of workplace violence. When hazards like this exist, employers must develop and maintain an effective workplace violence prevention program. An OSHA inspection prompted by employee complaints, determined that Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx lacked adequate safeguards for employees in the pediatric emergency department of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.

According to a press release, OSHA found that employees, including nurses, assistants, technicians and security personnel, were exposed to workplace violence. In some cases, physical assaults from violent patients occurred during one-on-one patient observations, while restraining patients during assaults and attempted escapes, and while performing holds on or restraining patients. The violent incidents resulted in worker injuries, including broken bones, bites, and neck, back and shoulder injuries. The injuries caused some employees to take time off of work. The agency determined that Montefiore’s workplace violence prevention program was inadequate and lacked effective engineering and administrative controls and employee training to protect workers against the recurring hazard of workplace violence.

OSHA cited Montefiore for one serious violation under the general duty clause, with a proposed penalty of $13,653, for not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. The agency also cited the facility for two other-than-serious violations, with $3,902 in proposed penalties, for incomplete, inaccurate and untimely injury and illness incident reports.

Source: Ross Arrowsmith