If you have suffered a serious injury due to an act of violence of the course of performing your work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, whether that violence was committed by a fellow employee, member of management, customer or member of the public while committing a crime.
About two (2) million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The agency defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.
Homicide is the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States (behind motor vehicle accidents, contact with objects or equipment and falls, slips and trips), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. The report states that of the 4,628 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2012, 463 were workplace homicides. Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, according to OSHA.
Factors that increase the risk of violence
OSHA states there are factors that can increase the risk of violence for workers at certain worksites and types of jobs.
- Exchanging money with the public.
- Working with volatile, unstable people.
- Working alone or in isolated areas.
- Providing services and care.
- Working where alcohol is served.
- Time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates.
In addition to those who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups are at higher risk of violence, according to OSHA.
Factors that decrease the risk of violence
Your employer can limit the risk of injury due to workplace violence by being proactive.
- Establishing and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence covering all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors and anyone else who may come in contact with employees.
- Screening out job candidates with a history of violent crimes.
- Enforcing a policy of not allowing employees to bring weapons to work.
- Installing security systems or enacting procedures to discourage criminal activity at the workplace.
- Creating an Employee Assistance Program that allows employees facing personal crises to get professional help before they lash out at a fellow employee.
If you’ve been injured because of an act of workplace violence, contact our office so we can discuss your situation, possible legal remedies and whether you might qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.