Violence has no place at work. Yet millions of employees fall victim to it every year. On-the-job injuries such as falls, company vehicle accidents and chemical burns can be covered by Workers’ Compensation – but what happens when violence occurs at work?
Violence can come from another employee, manager, or a company owner. It can also be from an outside source, such as a criminal entering a workplace with a weapon, or a disgruntled former employee or family member. Angry customers, patients, and students have also entered company buildings to commit acts of violence.
There are certain jobs that are at higher risk for workplace violence. Working without other people around, working alone, or working in an isolated area are all factors that may increase the risk. Having a job where money is exchanged can lead to disputes over cash; serving or working around alcoholic beverages also fit into this category.
Personal service providers are also more susceptible to incidents, as are those working late at night and in high–crime areas.
What Qualifies as Workplace Violence?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is “an act or a threat of physical violence, harassment, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” It can range from a verbal assault to homicide.
Workplace violence may qualify for Worker’s Compensation, but only if the attack is work-related. It must be proven that the incident occurred while the victim was working at their job.
Certain states require that the assault was motivated by a work situation and not a personal one. An example of work-related violence would be a patient attacking their doctor when the doctor tried to examine them. A personal situation could be an employee’s wife confronting her husband at work with a weapon.
In cases of violence between co-workers, the victim has to prove that the injuries arose from, and occurred during, employment. The victim is not always automatically entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. Every case needs to have the facts reviewed in order to establish the reason for the assault. This can include witness accounts, police reports, and medical reports.
Preventing Workplace Violence
Identifying workplace violence risk factors is the first step towards prevention. Employers should provide a zero-tolerance policy that applies to every employee, third party vendors, customers, patients, and all others that are in contact with their workers.
This policy should be clearly communicated and include the proper channels for reporting incidents. It should be used in conjunction with employee training and administrative controls.
There are often warning signs that are precursors to violent acts, and it is in everyone’s best interest to be aware of them. Factors such as aggressive outbursts, a decline in job performance, substance abuse, unexplained absences, complaining of problems at home, depression, and paranoia can all lead to violence. This is not a guarantee, as some acts of violence have no warning signs. But being aware and on the lookout for potential problems are keys to prevention.
Delaware Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims of Workplace Violence Get Compensation
If you or someone you care for is the victim of workplace violence, contact a Delaware workplace injury lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We will review your case at no charge to you and fight to make sure your claim is successful. Call 302-888-1221 today or complete our online contact form. From our offices in Wilmington and Philadelphia we represent injured workers in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.