Approximately two million Americans report workplace violence annually. Unfortunately, there are many other cases that go unreported as well. If an incident of violence transpires at a construction site, employers may be held liable. It’s important to take appropriate precautions to ensure that your workplace does not become another unfortunate statistic.
In this four-part article, we will begin by discussing violence in the workplace. In the second section, we will discuss liability issues for employers. In the third and fourth sections, we will discuss how to monitor your workplace and create policies to prevent violent actions from taking place. If you are in need of the counsel of a Michigan OSHA attorney, please give us a call today.
The Wide-Ranging Definition of Workplace Violence
It’s not only important to understand that workplace violence is a common occurrence, it’s also crucial that construction professionals understand that workplace violence does not strictly relate to just the act of physical assault. Workplace violence can entail several types of actions including: veiled threats, harassment, verbal abuse, profanity, intimidation tactics, or even sending a coworker disrespectful text messages. Whether it’s verbal abuse or physical assault, the actions that define workplace violence can greatly vary and transpire in a variety of ways.
Parties Involved in Workplace Violence
Workplace violence doesn’t require that two coworkers engage in a dispute either. In some cases, workplace violence could involve a bystander and a worker. For example, a pedestrian is angry that the crosswalk is under construction and engages in a verbal dispute with a worker. This dispute escalates to a physical encounter. Workplace violence can involve everyone from the employees at the workplace to civilians around the workplace to third-party clients that visit the site to even family members of employees. As long as the incident stems from a work-related activity, it can be considered a form of workplace violence.
Workplace Violence Can Exist Beyond the Workplace
In some cases, the incident of workplace violence doesn’t even transpire at the actual workplace. If a conflict begins in the workplace, but then escalates away from the construction site this could still fall under the broad umbrella term of workplace violence. For example, if two coworkers begin a dispute at the workplace and then agree to meet elsewhere to “resolve” this issue, this can be interpreted as an act of workplace violence. As we will discuss more in the next section, if the employer was aware of an escalating problem and did nothing to resolve this issue, they may be found liable for this act transpiring.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.