Glance through recent headlines and you’ll quickly realize that workplace violence is a pressing issue.
Workplace violence is defined by The National Institute for the Prevention of Workplace Violence as acts of aggression or violence that occur in the workplace or are related to the workplace. Such acts could include assaults, threats, or emotionally abusive behaviors.
This type of crime is a serious safety issue in workplaces of all kinds, with some reports estimating that there are an average of two million cases of assault and violent threats made against US workers every year. Many of these violent acts are committed by outsiders, while others are committed by current or former employees, or intimate partners or spouses of current or former employees.
For employees, executives, and workers of any type of business, it’s crucial to know how to recognize and protect yourself in the event of a workplace violence incident. We’ve provided seven essential tips for employees below.
Learn how to recognize warning signs. Many acts of workplace violence are perpetrated by employees. You can avoid becoming a victim by remaining alert to signs of violence in your coworkers. Common warning signals may include aggressive behavior, frequent arguments, and direct or indirect threats or references to weapons.
Take steps to prevent it. If you observe aggressive, belligerent, or unusual behavior in a coworker, customer, or visitor to your workplace, talk to a boss or manager. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and in many cases you can prevent big problems with small preventative steps.
Avoid dangerous scenarios. You should avoid working late into the night, or traveling to unfamiliar locations alone. When you travel to community settings, carry the minimum amount of cash possible as well as appropriate identification.
Stay calm. If you ever do find yourself involved in a situation with a belligerent, hostile, or aggressive coworker, customer, or other individual at work, try your best to stay calm. Maintain eye contact with the threatening individual, and make an effort to show you are listening attentively.
Get help. As soon as a situation escalates, and a person begins yelling, swearing, or threatening you, signal a coworker or manager that you need help. If possible, have them call the police—you should not make the call yourself if you can avoid it.
Tread carefully around weapons. It’s important to keep as calm as possible even if a coworker, customer, or other individual threatens you with a gun, knife, or other weapon. Maintain eye contact and follow the individual’s instructions. Continue talking and try to stall for time, but do not put yourself or others in danger. Do not attempt to grab the weapon, but do keep an eye out for a chance to escape safely .
Report threats. You should report even seemingly minor incidents to your supervisor and local law enforcement to avoid the possibility of an even more dangerous incident in the future.
If You Have Been a Victim of Workplace Violence
As an employee, you have a right to a safe and secure workplace. Many cases of workplace violence could have been avoided with proper safety measures and appropriate precautions. Business and property owners have a legal duty to provide safe premises to employees, customers, and visitors, and to protect them from harm caused by workplace violence incidents when those incidents are foreseeable. When business and property owners fail to live up to this standard, they put workers and guests at risk for criminal attack.
To protect employees, customers, and other visitors to their property, owners should provide adequate security measures such as:
- Security guards
- Adequate lighting
- Working locks
- Alarms on windows and doors
- Security video cameras
If you have suffered harm or injury at work due to the property or business owner’s failure to provide reasonable security measures, you may be able to hold them responsible for their negligence through a negligent security claim. By filing a negligent security claim, you may be able to recover compensation for the injury or losses you suffered.
Talk to an experienced Florida negligent security attorney if you have been a victim of workplace violence. Your lawyer may be able to work with you to prove the property or business owner should have been aware of the risk or hazard that contributed to the incident, but failed to act.
To support your case, your attorney may collect evidence, gather witnesses, and examine crime statistics and other records to determine whether the violent incident was foreseeable. With a good negligent security lawyer on your side, you will be in the best position possible to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs related to your long-term recovery.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.