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Is an employer negligent if an employee is a victim of workplace violence?

| Dec 15, 2014 | Workplace Injuries |

It’s an unfortunate fact that acts of violence occur daily across the U.S. In some cases, an individual may suffer threats of violence or actual acts of assault while he or she is performing work-related duties. In fact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that each year approximately 2 million U.S. workers “are victims of workplace violence.”

From a verbal threat to an act of homicide, many U.S. workers who work closely with members of the public are vulnerable to suffering acts of violence. OSHA notes that individuals employed in certain industries and professions are especially prone to being targeted including health care workers, social workers, retail workers, utility employees, telephone and cable installers and letter carriers.

Acts of workplace violence can result in an employee suffering physical injuries as well as psychological injuries which may lead to or worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are required to provide employees with “a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards.” While some acts of workplace violence may be difficult to anticipate or prevent, employers would be wise to be proactive and work to empower employees.

There are numerous security measures that can be taken to provide for the physical safety of employees including the installation of video recording equipment, alarm systems, secure entry and on-site security personnel. Additionally employers would be wise to provide employees with education and training with regard to issues of workplace safety and violence.

In cases where an employer blatantly disregards OSHA guidelines or intentionally puts an employee at an increased risk of becoming a victim of workplace violence, legal action may be appropriate. San Diego area residents who have suffered physical or psychological acts of workplace violence may choose to discuss their case with an attorney.

Source: OSHA.gov, “Workplace Violence,” 2014

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