When reading the day’s headlines or watching the evening news, it often seems as if we live in an increasingly violent society. Altercations arise in traffic, in schools, in the store, and at the office, and can escalate to violent proportions quickly. Violence in the workplace has become increasingly more common, and large numbers of workers are finding themselves in situations in which verbal assaults quickly escalate to actual physical assaults. On the job injuries caused by workplace violence are often serious and life threatening. Here is what you need to know about the prevalence of violence in the workplace, as well as some tips that come help you determine when a simple disagreement has the potential to become dangerous.
Facts About Violence in the Workplace
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence consists of not only physical altercations, but also any type of threatening behavior, intimidation, or harassment that occurs in the workplace. OSHA reports that over two million workers are the victims of workplace violence each year in the United States, and roughly 10 percent of all workplace fatalities each year are attributed to violent assaults or attacks. The types of workers commonly affected by workplace violence include the following:
- Employees in customer service
- Employees who are responsible for accepting payments or handling money
- Human resources employees
- Healthcare employees and counselors
- People who serve alcohol, such as bartenders and wait staff
- Delivery drivers
- Law enforcement
People who work in high-pressure jobs, work night shifts, work alone, or in areas with high crime rates may be particularly vulnerable to on the job violence. Unfortunately, any job can pose a risk for violence, given certain sets of circumstances.
Warning Signs of Workplace Violence
According to the South Carolina Department of Administration’s Division of Human Resources, the development of workplace violence policies is a good first step in ensuring the safety of employees. A zero tolerance policy should be adopted in terms of dealing with violent behavior, and it is a good idea for employers to provide their workers and staff on policies and procedures on how to respond to a violent threat or attack, as well as how to identify a potentially violent or threatening situation before it occurs. Risk factors and warning signs that a co-worker or customer may become violent include:
- A prior history of threatening or violent behaviors
- Evidence of alcohol or drug dependence
- An obsession with weapons
- Destructive or harassing behavior
- Frequent violations and scorn for company policies
- Being preoccupied with getting revenge against a boss or coworker
- Changes in behavior or the adoption of new, radicalized beliefs
- Preoccupation with stories about violence in the news
If you suspect a coworker or client is at risk for violent behavior, report it to your supervisor immediately. If you feel your concerns are not being addressed or a supervisor has failed to take actions to prevent potentially violent situations in the workplace, you can contact the U.S. Department of Labor Whistleblower Protection Program at whistleblowers.gov.
Reach Out to Our Office for Help
If you or someone you loved has been injured as the result of workplace violence, call Akim Anastopoulo today. Our experienced South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys will review your case, and help determine whether you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we can help you get the compensation and benefits you deserve for the injuries you have suffered. Call or contact us online today for a free case review.