Workplace Violence and Workers Compensation
One of the most astonishing statistics I discovered while researching this topic is that Homicide is currently the second leading cause of fatal occupational injuries (behind traffic fatalities) and the LEADING cause of death for women in the workplace. (as reported by NCCI www.workplaceviolence991.com )
Although the incidents that predominately make the news are the “going postal” - vengeful actions of disgruntled employees towards supervisors or fellow employees; just as dangerous and common are attacks by peers, disgruntled customers, domestic incidents, stalkers, as well as threats posed by armed robbers.
No industry or business is immune to workplace violence or the witnessing of a violent act. Although the injured person(s) and their family (ies) are certainly entitled to Workers compensation benefits, fellow employees can also be effected by the witnessing of an act of violence in the form of clinical depression, post traumatic stress disorder, social withdrawal and the like. These people may also be entitled to workers compensation benefits, which drives up the employer’s experience modification and premiums. A workers compensation policy’s Experience modification charge is developed by a computation that compares a company’s annual loses in insurance claims against its policy premiums over a three-year period, excluding the most current year.
This tells us that it is important for employers to evaluate the threat of workplace violence and put a prevention program in place to reduce the risk of violent occurrences in the workplace.
A well written and implemented workplace violence program with engineering controls, administrative controls and training can drastically reduce and even prevent violent acts from occurring in the workplace. This is demonstrated by studies conducted after a number of companies and organizations implemented prevention programs during the 1990’s resulting in the number of fatalities being decreased by as much as 40%.
A “No-Tolerance” approach is best and should become part of the businesses’ culture in which the employer disapproves of any type of threats, harassment and verbal or physical intimidation. Employers should also be aware of the warning signs of a potential dangerous employee and implement the more common measures for prevention of same: pre-employment testing, employee and supervisor training and education in workplace violence, written procedures for reporting and responding to acts of violence, and termination procedures.
As workplace violence awareness becomes more widespread, and more employers put into practice a Prevention Plan, the number of fatalities and associated injuries in the workplace due to acts of violence will continue to decline as well as keep workers compensation costs down.