You may associate workplace injuries with things like falls, broken machinery or lax safety protocols. While all of these things certainly can and do contribute to worker injuries, most people leave out the third leading cause of worker death in the United States — workplace violence.
Workplace violence is a widespread epidemic. Unfortunately, Massachusetts workers are not immune to this danger, and it is not clear if employers are taking the problem as seriously as they should.
What kind of violence is going on?
Like with most safety issues, violence in the workplace can take many forms. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health categorizes workplace violence as such:
- Criminal intent
- Personal relationship
Your susceptibility to these types of violence depends on your personal situation. Customer service workers may be more likely to be involved in a customer/client incident, while personal relationship violence disproportionately affects women.
Is it really that big of a problem?
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, annually, 2 million workers make workplace violence reports. One year, workplace violence fatalities accounted for 16 percent of that year’s 4,821 worker deaths.
Your risk is particularly high if you work in the healthcare industry, where violence in the workplace is the third most common cause of worker death. Government jobs are not immune to violence either, with statistics for another year showing 128 deaths and over 37,000 on-the-job injuries. Retail workers saw only 2,680 violence injuries that year, but a relatively high fatality rate of 107 deaths.
What can employers do?
Like with any workplace safety issue, preparedness is key. Massachusetts employers should have concrete safety plans that detail how to deal with violent situations, which should include escape routes, safe hiding places and proper protocol for contacting the authorities. The Department of Homeland Security also advices that victims resort to attacking back only as a last and desperate resort.
If you suffered injuries because of an act of workplace violence, you may feel confused about your options concerning workers’ compensation. Since most people do not associate violence with worker injuries, you might not even know that you qualify workers’ comp. It is important to understand these and other details concerning workers’ comp applications to avoid potential denials on your first submission.