Violence at work is a common problem. The Occupational Health & Safety Administration estimates that 2 million American workers have experienced workplace violence. These incidents include physical assault, rape, and murder.
In 2013, 397 workers were murdered at work by co-workers, disgruntled customers, and angry ex’s. According to OSHA, these fatalities accounted for 9% of all workplace fatalities that year. 80% of these were the result of gunshot wounds. In 2014, the number of fatalities rose slightly to 403.
“OSHA‘s guidelines to prevent workplace violence are very broad. To help fill in the gaps, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Workplace Violence Prevention Act. The WVPA became law on January 1, 2014. In many ways, it is an extension of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. It allows employers to request protective orders against individuals the employer considers a credible threat to the health and safety of their employees,” commented McHenry workers’ compensation attorney Randall Taradash.
Employers’ Responsibility to Employees
Employers in Illinois owe a general duty to employees. They are required to take reasonable measures to protect employees and customers from known threats. The WVPA helps them do this. However, they are not liable for random and unforeseeable acts of violence. In order for an employer to be liable for workplace violence, it must be shown that the employer was aware of a credible threat and failed to take steps to protect employees, customers, or visitors.
“The threat of violence in the workplace is unfortunately a modern reality. It is causing employers to take ever more protective measures to protect their employees, and themselves. One way they’re doing this is by taking out active shooter insurance. This provides coverage for injuries and fatalities beyond what is covered under workers’ compensation. Additionally, active shooter insurance covers physical damage and provides funding for PTSD counseling and security consulting,” remarked McHenry workers’ compensation attorney Randall Taradash.
In Illinois, protective orders and security consulting are available to help employers prevent workplace violence. With statistics that show the prevalence of workplace violence, using these just might save a life.