By Lisanne L. Mikula

While most people think of violence as something that happens to “everyone else,” violence in the workplace has become an epidemic. Not only is workplace violence increasingly common in workplaces where violence is expected — for example, corrections, law enforcement and mental health — but in almost every occupation as well.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly two million Americans are subjected to some form of violence in the workplace each year.

Certain workers are at increased risk, such as workers who exchange money with the public, workers who deliver passengers, goods, or services, workers who work alone or in isolated areas, and workers with extensive contact with the public.  Healthcare workers in particular have an increased risk of becoming a victim of violence—for them, assaults comprise 10-11% of workplace injuries involving days away from work, as compared to 3% of injuries for all private sector employees.

Workplace violence extends beyond the traditional workplace and can occur in many settings, such as at off-site business-related functions, at social events related to work, at a client’s home, or even on personal time, such as receiving a threatening telephone call from a client or co-worker.   Workers, former workers, customers, vendors, and family members and romantic partners of workers can threaten the safety of the workplace.

An employer may be liable to those who are injured in the workplace, particularly where the employer has failed to take steps to prevent the injury by, for example:

  • Having no company policy regarding violence prevention
  • Having no protocol in place to respond to threats of violence
  • Ignoring threats and signs of violence
  • Failing to screen new workers
  • Failing to provide training regarding violence prevention
  • Terminating workers without due process
  • Failing to monitor visitors to the work premises
  • Ignoring complaints about the behavior of a worker, client or visitor
  • Ignoring safety concerns expressed by workers
  • Failing to have adequate security measures and procedures

Whether you are a worker who has been injured as a result of workplace violence, or an employer concerned about maintaining the safety of the workplace, we can help.

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