Worried about violence in the workplace? You should be

Like most people in South Carolina, you probably learned to worry about violence when alone at night or, visiting new areas or in various other situations. Even if you are aware of certain risk factors for violence, you have probably overlooked a serious threat to your safety -- going to work. 

Workplace violence is a serious problem that not enough people are talking about. Indeed, you may have gone through extensive work safety training and still received little to no information about violence in the workplace. Although some industries are more affected by this type of injury than others, everyone is still at risk. 

Workplace violence is deadly 

Annually, an average of 2 million workers in America report incidents of workplace violence. There were over 400 workplace deaths from violence in 2014 alone, which accounts for about 16 percent of that year's fatality totals. However, these totals account for workers across all industries and do not give an accurate picture of what some people regularly face. 

Violent acts in the workplace are the third most common cause of death for health care workers. This might not seem so surprising if you understand the nature of health care work, but what about professionals employed in law, media and education? If you work in these fields you also face a higher fatality rate from violence. 

What can be done? 

Preventing violent attacks or outbursts is a difficult task, but employers can take steps to mitigate your risk. This usually involves implementing new employee training, creating emergency action plans and even conducting mock exercises. A zero-tolerance violence policy can also help prevent acts of escalating violence. 

Even the best-laid safety protocols will sometimes fail. Recognizing potential warning signs that a co-worker may become violent can help keep your workplace safe. Some concerning behaviors to look out for includes: 

  • Unexplained absences or sudden decline in quality of work 
  • Frequent complaints regarding unfair treatment or resistance to new workplace protocols 
  • Violation of workplace policies 
  • Paranoia 
  • Excessive alcohol or drug intake 

Yes, your injuries are work related 

You may not associate acts of violence with workplace accidents, and understandably so. Most people think of work injuries in terms of heavy lifting or dangerous equipment. In general, if you suffer an injury while carrying out the course of your work duties, then it is a work-related injury.  

South Carolina workers' compensation benefits are there to help you address the financial and medical costs of suffering a workplace injury, which usually include lost wages and medical bills. Whether you suffered a serious fall or were injured during an act of violence, you deserve the right help to get you back on your feet. 

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