Workplace violence is an area of growing focus and concern for area employers.
The National Safety Council reports more than 18,000 injuries and nearly 500 fatalities occur each year as a result of workplace violence, making it among the leading causes of serious and fatal on-the-job injuries.
Certain careers, including healthcare, education and taxi or livery drivers, face higher risks. But every workplace should have a plan when it comes to reducing or eliminating the chances of workplace violence.
Our injury attorneys in Cape Coral and Fort Myers know it’s the mass shootings that make the news. But these incidents more commonly involve former spouses, or a personal dispute that results in a perpetrator assaulting an employee in the workplace. Many of these instances can be prevented by properly monitoring workplace access, and by educating employees about how to deal with trespassers or intruders.
Workplace Violence Safety
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports workplace violence falls into one of four categories: Criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, and personal relationships.
An experienced injury lawyer should always be consulted in these types of cases. Certainly, most employees should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, whenever an injury occurs on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid without regard to fault, meaning it is not necessary for an injured worker to prove an employer was negligent in some way in order to collect benefits. In exchange for workers’ compensation benefits, most workers are prohibited from suing an employer for additional damages unless an employer acted intentionally or was grossly negligent.
However, third-party liability may be shared by a number of other entities, including the perpetrator, security contractors, or others who share responsibility for the safety and security of a workplace. Additional damage claims can be sought when such parties can be identified as partially responsible for an incident.
Workplace Violence Prevention
Every workplace should have employee training and an emergency action plan. Conducting mock exercises and including local law enforcement in the planning can both make for a safer workplace. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence is also critical.
Awareness of the warning signs can also reduce the risks of violence or even prevent an attack. Common warning signs include:
- Excessive use of drugs or alcohol.
- Poor attendance, change in behavior.
- Depression or withdraw.
- Resistance to change or persistent complaining.
- Mood swings and emotional responses to criticism.
- Violations of company policy.
In addition to workers’ compensation claims, cases involving workplace violence can involve premises liability claims and negligent security. Companies and employers facing creditable threats or working in an industry with above-average risks have an obligation to provide additional protections and take other necessary precautions to reduce the risk of workplace violence. If injury does occur, pursuing damages will be the responsibility of each injured employee and will occur apart from any criminal proceedings against the attacker.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.