Did you know that the fourth leading cause of workplace-related deaths is assault? That's according to the National Safety Council. "Assault" covers not just physical assault, but all forms of workplace violence, including shootings, stabbings and arson. In 2018, nearly 21,000 injuries from workplace violence were reported. Over 450 people were killed.
Many people associate workplace violence with careers where people are dealing with the public, like health care workers and cab drivers. Indeed, their chances of suffering violence on the job are higher than those of people in many other lines of work.
However, as we've seen too often on our TV screens, workplace violence can occur in any type of business. All it takes is one mentally unbalanced employee or customer. The deadliest acts of workplace violence (including those in schools) involve active shooters.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) puts workplace violence into four categories:
- Criminal intent
- Personal relationship
All businesses, no matter what size or type, should have an emergency plan in place and train employees to know what to do if violence breaks out. Many businesses even bring in local law enforcement officers or safety professionals to help with employee training.
While certainly not all workplace violence is perpetrated by employees, businesses should have a zero-tolerance policy. It's also important for managers and all employees to be aware of warning signs that a worker is having problems that could result in violence. These can include:
- Behavioral changes -- including heightened emotions, depression or withdrawal
- Declining job performance
- Unexplained absences
- Persistent complaints about how they're being treated
- Resistance to changes
- Policy violations
If you have been injured in an act of workplace violence or a loved one has been killed, it's essential that you get the compensation that you need and deserve, including workers' compensation. If the employer did not take steps to adequately protect employees, they may have some liability. An attorney can provide more specific guidance based on your situation.