In this blog, we frequently discuss the numerous types of physical injuries that workers may suffer while performing work-related duties. Often overlooked, are the physical and mental injuries that may result due to acts of workplace violence. In fact, it often isn't until a tragic event like the recent murders of two employees at a Virginia news station occurs that the topic of workplace violence and how to protect employees comes to the forefront.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, annually an estimated "two millions American workers report having been the victims of workplace violence." Acts of workplace violence can include threats, harassment, acts of intimidation, physical violence and bullying. In extreme cases, an incident may result in or escalate to include an act of homicide. OSHA statistics show that during 210 alone, of the 4,547 workplace fatalities reported, 506 or roughly 11 percent were homicides.
While some acts of workplace violence can be difficult to anticipate or prevent, factors that may increase the likelihood that a worker will be a victim include:
- Working with certain unstable or violent members of the population
- Exchanging money with the public
- Overnight work
- Isolated work environment
- The availability and use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Location of workplace
Given these factors, individuals who are employed as healthcare and social workers, law enforcement personnel, delivery men/women and customer service agents are more prone to suffer acts of workplace violence.
Regardless of one's industry, every worker has the right to a safe and hazard-free work environment. While in recent years some employers have taken steps to address acts of workplace violence in employee trainings and to improve and enforce security protocols, many can and should do more.
Source: OSHA.gov, "Workplace Violence," Sept. 17, 2015