Protecting yourself against workplace violence

In any given occupation, there are risks to workers' health. Manual labor jobs might mean strained muscles; office work can lead to carpal tunnel; retail workers can suffer fall-related injuries.

However, sometimes the risk of injury doesn't stem from the type of work you do, it stems from the other people you encounter on the job. Violence in the workplace is also a concern for workers across California, and like any work-related hazard, it is crucial that California employees understand their rights for protecting themselves.

The threat of workplace violence generally comes from three different sources.

  1. Strangers: Workers can be hurt or killed by strangers during a robbery or other criminal act. These situations may affect retail workers more than others.
  2. Parties in a business relationship: Your safety could be in jeopardy if you go to clients' homes or provide any type of service to people entering your workplace. This would include healthcare industry workers, law enforcement officers, transportation agents, and home repair workers.
  3. Co-workers: Someone you work with could pose a threat to your safety in situations where harassment takes a violent turn or someone gets into a fight.

Cal/OSHA provides guidance materials for California employers and employees in terms of preventative measures and reporting, but there are still many people who are hurt or killed in the workplace due to violence. Thankfully, there are remedies available to victims of violence in the workplace.

Talking to an attorney can help you assess your options. In some cases, you may be eligible to collect workers' compensation to help with your medical costs and lost wages. You may also have grounds to file a civil claim against the violent party and your employer. Under some circumstances, all of these options may be pursued.

Filing a legal claim after a violent incident can be crucial. Not only will it help you recover and cope with your injuries, it can also establish a record of dangerous conditions that must be remedied in the workplace. You shouldn't have to be afraid to go to work; reporting violent situations and seeking compensation if you are injured can help you protect yourself and others who may be affected by the threat of violence in the workplace.