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Risk Management Bulletin


By May 1, 2014No Comments

According to risk management experts, workplace violence is a growing problem in the U.S, accounting for more than 5,400 victims a day and up to 2% of all non-fatal lost-time injuries on the job. The multibillion dollar annual cost to employers includes not only the financial impact of injury and death to workers or customers, but reduced profits from lost productivity – not to mention the unwanted publicity that violent acts create.

What’s more, a business might be held liable for damage from workplace violence if an assault occurs in the scope of employment and the employer might have been reasonably expected to have foreseen the threat.

“Although there were pre-incident indicators in nearly every case of workplace violence,” says Rick Shaw, CEO of Awareity Inc. (Lincoln, NE), “a failure to recognize and deal with these indicators made it impossible to prevent them.” Your business needs to develop an “early warning system” for employees to report potential signs of violence (anonymously) to managers so they can investigate them, share assessments, and forestall possible threats.

For example, according to Jeffrey Natterman, risk manager and associate senior counsel at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, a 2010 shooting incident at the facility involved the distraught son of a woman whose surgery resulted in complications. Although there had been signs pointing to the risks of violence, staff who saw these indicators failed to share their concerns. After the shooting, the hospital instituted a number of policies and security measures to make patients, visitors, and staff aware of behavior that might lead to violence and how to respond these acts. Natterman’s advice to employers: “Training your staff on how to piece this together is something that’s critically important.”

In the words of the Roman proverb, Praemonitus, praemunitus (“Forewarned is forearmed.”)