While it's thankfully still a rare occurrence, it happens more frequently than it should. An act of workplace violence where a disgruntled former employee, an angry customer, or a vicious criminal decide to lash out and cause harm. When that happens, the costs are significant and serious. Is there a way to protect your business and, at the same time, provide the care and support needed for the victims?
According to OSHA, workplace violence is defined as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or the threatening disruptive behavior that occurs in the worksite.” It can result in verbal intimidation, insults and harassment to acts of physical violence or homicide. OSHA estimates that it’s the third leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.
It’s important to take measures to prevent these from happening, but when they do, it’s crucial to ensure that the costly financial repercussions of such an event don’t continue to do more harm even after the initial incident is over. Workplace Violence Insurance will cover businesses so that the company itself, the victims and other employees are protected.
Workplace Violence Insurance is simply coverage for the expenses that a business can incur as a result of an incident of workplace violence. Policies cover things like the cost of public relations, medical expenses and salary reimbursement for affected employees, death benefits to survivors, mental health professionals to help employees cope after the event, business interruption expenses, and hiring the expertise of professionals after the event such as security experts, and crisis management or public relations professionals.
An act of occupational violence can come from a number of different sources:
It can be criminal in nature - where the perpetrator has no real relationship to the business, but is motivated by the desire to commit a crime such as a robbery or shoplifting.
It can come from a customer or client - where the perpetrator becomes violent while receiving services from the business.
It may be worker on worker - where an employee, either present or past, threatens or attacks existing employees in the workplace.
Or it can be personal in nature - where the perpetrator has a relationship only with the intended victim and not the business, as with cases of domestic abuse.
Workers compensation, business interruption and general liability will cover some but not all of the costs associated with an event of workplace violence. It’s important to note that, if an employer could or should have known that one of their employees had violent tendencies, and those tendencies were acted upon resulting in harm to employees, the employer may be liable. You also have to consider the possibility of lawsuits that can easily add to financial consequences of an event. Plus, a business may want to put forth goodwill efforts to help victims and employees or their families. Efforts to do so are important and will help shoulder a business’ reputation in the wake of a devastating event. Businesses may want to cover, for example, medical care for any third party individuals who happened to be on the premises.
In those situations, workplace violence insurance is the only solution that will make sure everything is covered properly. Not all Workplace Violence Insurance policies are created equally - you’ll definitely want to talk with your Winter-Dent executive and have them explain clearly the different options so that you can find the best solution for you.
And naturally, the most important efforts you can make are in prevention. OSHA offers a resource with programs designed to assist business owners and HR Departments in offering material to educate and assist employees in preventing acts of workplace violence. Know what educational resources and treatment options are available for your employees for things like mental health, stress, alcoholism and others.
And at the end of the day, even the best preventative measures can fail. To learn more about Workplace Violence Insurance, contact us at Winter-Dent.