Are Businesses At Risk of Losing Everything Over a False Sense of Security?
Workplace violence is one of those things you never think will happen to your business, but statistics prove otherwise and is why it’s one of those “what ifs” that should not be ignored.
The ramifications of a wrongful death situation destroys a lot of lives. Beyond the pain suffered by loved ones for their loss, the wrath of a grieving family member is something difficult to describe.
If one cannot bring someone back from the dead, their next option is to ensure it never happens again.
This usually equates to the intention of eliminating the wrong doers, i.e., the business owners involved, and everyone connected with them, that were directly or indirectly negligent in protecting their staff and customers.
Insurance companies stand to lose their shirts too. Just one to two companies with a wrongful death suit could do in a small to midsize agency.
This is simply a matter of responsibility of doing the right thing before anything happens.
This article combines a recent press release with facts (and opinions) about how businesses can protect themselves, and everyone who comes onto their premisses, by doing the right thing—and possibly eradicating the imminent and real threat that is can, in most cases, be avoided.
What’s interesting is, most businesses think they are protected, but most have been led astray by being told a few “untruths” that could come to bite them when least expected.
Workplace Violence is Defined As
Osha.gov defines workplace violence as follows:
“Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.”
OSHA goes on to say, “It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Acts of violence and other injuries is currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.”
Today more than ever, violence in the workplace is a serious and real problem for businesses of any size and type. “If you have employees or customers … which every business has at least one of them … you’re at risk,” says Dr. Steve Webb, CEO of Safe Secure Systems and nationally acclaimed #1 bestselling author, in a recent interview.
Dr. Webb is a Certified Workplace Violence and Threat Specialist from the McAfee Institute and police officer. He knows, first-hand, of the real threat that exists today. Dr Webb has played a key roll in protecting our kids in schools and helps businesses to protect themselves and their employees and customers.
A recent survey discovered that one in six employees had experienced some form of violence at their place of employment. These included physical assaults and threats of bodily harm. The majority of these incidents go unreported, with employees fearful of what might happen if they do.
“Then there’s the burning and looting that we’ve seen, and an increase in armed robberies,” said Webb, as he shook his head in frustration.
“That’s not the end of it,” he continued. “I can walk in to just about any company, pass the security guard desk, walk through the company’s halls and leave without anyone ever knowing I was carrying a weapon. Granted, I’m a cop. But what if I wasn’t? What if I were someone with an axe to grind?”
Dr. Webb stressed that this isn’t about doom and gloom, but instead, insists that there are measures of prevention and “methods of preparedness” that can and need to be taken to avoid violence, and that’s the key.
An Alarming Revelation
History proves out that the law sides with the consumer, not the business owner in matters of OSHA compliance.
OSHA, which falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Labor, usually mediates workplace violence matters. Employees may not report matters to their bosses, but they often will file complaints online at the OSHA website, if only anonymously.
Approximately two million employees have endured some type of workplace violence on an annual basis. Small business owners are not exempt from taking a proactive role in preventing workplace violence for their employees.
The statistics on workplace violence are shocking, with approximately 60% of violent incidents involving the threat of physical violence. Workplace violence can also be lethal.
The most disturbing thing of all of this is that we were surprised to see just how many businesses are walking on thin ice because they have not done enough prevention and training to protect their employees, customers delivery personnel…anyone coming onto their premises when it comes to workplace violence. This puts these companies at high risk of devastating financial burden for “negligence”.
What’s more, other entities, such as the insurance companies that cover these unprepared businesses are sitting on a time bomb waiting to go off. “Because one or two wrongful death lawsuits,” says Dr. Webb, “where the businesses they’re covering didn’t do what they should have, they’re going to lose and the amount of money to pay out will be astronomical.”
Small businesses that ignore employee complaints of workplace violence could open themselves up to lawsuits, according to Environmental, Health and Safety Today. In cases, such as murder or wrongful death, a victim’s family may sue, and if the company did not perform their due diligence on an employee, such as a background check or train their employees adequately on safety matters and violence, etc., it is not uncommon for typical workplace violence incident costing businesses $250,000 or much more.
False Pretense of Being Compliant
What is alarming is that most businesses and insurance companies have no idea of their vulnerabilities. Our research found that there are online courses and videos that boast of being ‘OSHA compliant’, but this isn’t completely accurate.
There are a lot of on-line training programs that promote that they are “OSHA compliant”. This is grossly misleading the consumer because there are no OSHA guidelines for workplace violence. This is probably where the thorn lies unsuspectingly to business owners.
An Ounce of Prevention
Companies, and insurance agencies that cover businesses, would be wise to take immediate action to educate and train their employees properly on workplace violence and safety, and make their premises as safe as they can.
“They don’t even know they’re not compliant!” says Webb. He continues, “What they need to do is take similar measures like they do for other OSHA safety guidelines, which require “on-premises” training. This makes all “on-line only” programs inadequate, and they, in my opinion, would not hold up in court. It only makes sense to do on-premises training with workplace violence too if you wanted to show the courts that you did all you could to prevent harm. Not to mention actually make your workplace all the more safe for everyone. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Steve Webb is also a keynote speaker, and he is just as passionate in his speeches.
OSHA does recommend that employees take private safety training classes to help them identify and handle violent situations. So why not offer this training in-house and prevent the unthinkable.
There are currently no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence (https://www.osha.gov/workplace-violence/enforcement).
Still, like Dr Webb stressed that safety requirements should logically lend themselves to workplace violence. And under the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, business owners are required to provide their employees with a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”
The courts have interpreted OSHA’s general duty clause to mean that an employer has a legal obligation to provide a workplace that is free from conditions or activities that either the employer or industry recognizes as hazardous/dangerous that has the potential to cause serious physical injury or even death upon employees when there is a feasible method to mitigate the hazard.
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Dr. Steve Webb has been interviewed by all of the major national networks and it a keynote speaker. He gives keynote addresses to corporations, churches and associations.
Dr. Webb also can be hired for making workplace violence assessments for businesses of all sizes, from small/midsize to large corporations, and offers on-premises training.
Contact Dr. Webb today at: 877-453-SAFE (7233).