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Workplace violence is second leading cause of death on the job

Many industries in Pennsylvania include hazardous work that sometimes injures or kills workers. Logging, fishing, recyclers and roofers represent consistently dangerous occupations, but violence at work claims many lives each year across all occupations. The 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries that the Bureau of Labor Statistics published ranked workplace violence as the second most common cause of death for employees nationwide.

In 2016, the agency recorded 500 cases of fatal workplace attacks. This marked a 20 percent increase over the previous year. A criminology professor said that coworkers are not the source of most deadly encounters. Robberies and assaults by customers account for the majority of deaths, especially among cab drivers and police officers. This has consistently been the case since the 1980s and 1990s.

Domestic violence plays a role in some workplace murders. Among women killed on the job, 25 percent of them were murdered, and the killers tended to be abusive partners who tracked them down at work. Women fleeing violent relationships often remain vulnerable at work. They may not have time to find a new job before an abuser strikes. At large workplaces, coworkers might not know about the abuser, and the building might not be particularly secure.

People hurt or killed at work often have access to benefits through workers' comp insurance. Employers, however, sometimes strive to discourage accident reports and prevent insurance claims from being filed. A person experiencing difficulty with an insurance claim could consult an attorney. A legal review of the case might inform someone about how to respond to unsafe working conditions and challenge a denial of benefits. A lawyer might take action to connect a person with an independent medical evaluation. The filing of a lawsuit might also be appropriate if an insurer resists meeting the terms of the insurance contract.

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