How Death From Workplace Violence Happens

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace violence is defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” This could include verbal abuse, physical assault, and homicide.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 453 people died as a result of workplace violence in 2018. The motivation behind these attacks varied widely. Many incidents of workplace violence are the result of attempted robbery. Additionally, careers that involve contact with the public also increase risk, especially for those helping professionals who interact with individuals in crisis: social workers, healthcare workers, and first responders. Some violence in the workplace is the result of interpersonal conflict and domestic abuse, whether between employees or between an employee and the public.

When an Employer Shares Liability for the Violence

While it may be impossible to predict every case of workplace violence, employers should establish clear workplace policies and protocols to lower the risk. One policy OSHA suggests is a zero-tolerance response to violence in the workplace, whether perpetrated by an administrator, employee, or customer. If it can be shown that an employer was aware of previous violent actions by an employee or customer in the workplace, but failed to respond with swift and appropriate consequences for that behavior, it can be argued that the employer was partly responsible for the violence and death that followed.

If an employee or customer experiences harassment, intimidation, or violence in the workplace, and the employer fails to address those concerns immediately, or responds in a way that dismisses or tolerates the behavior, that employer could be held responsible when those behaviors escalate into violence or murder.

In addition, if employees are asked to work in contact with the public, particularly when money is exchanging hands, but employers fail to provide reasonable measures to protect their security, a judge or jury may decide that an employer’s careless attitude toward safety constitutes liability for any violence they allowed to happen on their premises.

Why You Should Contact Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum

If a family member has died as a result of violence in their workplace, and you believe their employer is partly to blame, you need to contact a firm with experience in workplace wrongful death cases. Our team of veteran attorneys can listen to your case and provide feedback on what to do next.  


Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.
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