Victims of Workplace Violence in Pennsylvania
Nearly two million workers report being the victims of workplace violence each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Workplace violence can occur in many different industries and in a variety of ways.
If you were a victim of workplace violence, you may be entitled to compensation under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. have represented victims of all types of workplace violence, including:
- Physical assault
- Threatening or disruptive behavior
- Verbal harassment
OSHA Standards for Workplace Violence
OSHA defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.”
Unlike other types of workplace accidents, there are no OSHA standards governing workplace violence. However, employers are generally required to provide workers with a safe and healthful work environment, free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Risk Factors for Workplace Violence
There are certain risk factors that influence whether an employee will be exposed to workplace violence. According to OSHA, they include:
- Dealing with the public
- Delivering goods or services
- Exchanging money
- Transporting passengers
- Working alone
- Working in community settings, such as group homes
- Working in high-crime areas
- Working late at night
High Risk Industries
Some industries are at higher risk of workplace violence than others. OSHA has identified some workplace environments in which workplace violence is a recognized occupational hazard that employers should address with appropriate protective measures.
Here are the work industries and environments that OSHA has identified as high risk:
- Correctional facilities: Jails, prisons and detention centers have a high potential for workplace violence.
- Delivery service: Delivery drivers are known to carry cash, putting them at risk of becoming a victim of burglary and assault.
- Health care and social service: Healthcare workers including hospital, residential and non-residential treatment, community care, and field workers are all at an increased risk of experiencing workplace violence.
- Late night retail establishments: Retail workers including convenience store, liquor store, and gas station employees are at risk. This is due to factors such as exchanging money, being located in a high-crime or isolated area, being open for 24 hours, working alone, selling alcohol, and having poorly lit stores and parking lots.
- Taxi drivers: Taxi drivers also work alone, sometimes in high-crime areas, and at night. They also exchange money and may deal with inebriated customers.
Most Common Types of Workplace Violence
OSHA has identified the most common types of workplace violence. They are classified according to the relationship between the perpetrator and the target or victim:
- Criminals: Violence can occur when someone enters a workplace to commit a crime, such as a robbery.
- Customers: Employees may be targeted by customers, patients, students, inmates, or any other person receiving a service from the victim.
- Co-workers: Violence may occur when co-workers, supervisors, or managers are targeted by a current or former employee.
- Personal: This type of workplace violence is initiated by someone who is not an employee, but who knows an employee in the workplace.
OSHA generally does not conduct inspections in cases of co-worker or personal types of violence. In cases of co-worker violence, the Area Director will decide whether an inspection is appropriate. This is done by determining in part whether the incident was foreseeable, whether the employer took the appropriate steps to address the ongoing/escalating hazard, the severity of the incident and if it was preventable.
Workers’ Compensation for Workplace Violence
Employers should maintain a zero-tolerance policy on workplace violence and train employees on how to respond in dangerous situations. Employers can take certain steps to safeguard employees from workplace violence, including providing adequate lighting, installing surveillance systems, and implementing appropriate security measures.
In Pennsylvania, victims injured in acts of workplace violence are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they were acting in the scope of their employment when the incident occurred.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of Workplace Violence
If you were the victim of workplace violence, contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
Our legal team provides skilled representation to those residing in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.