Pennsylvania workplace violence is the fourth leading cause of employee deaths in the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, resulting in 22 deaths in a single year. That amounts to 13 percent of the total number of workplace deaths, which is only slightly less than the national average of 15 percent. Most of these deaths involved shootings with a few stabbings.
Just last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) fined a psychiatric hospital in Fort Washington for exposing employees to workplace violence inflicted by patients without offering adequate protections. Workers at the facility were punched, scratched, bitten, grabbed and struck with objects, resulting in serious injuries. Despite repeated incidents, the facility allegedly failed to provide workers with personal protection equipment. The employer was fined $32,000.
The Pennsylvania Governor's Office Management Directive 205.33 covers promotion of protection from workplace violence for commonwealth agencies and employees. The directive indicates a "Zero Tolerance" approach to workplace violence of any kind, requires employers to implement specific policies and responses to workplace violence, and requires employees to report incidents as soon as possible.
Workers' Compensation After Workplace Violence
Philadelphia workers' compensation benefits can be awarded after workplace violence when injuries are sustained in the course and scope of employment. Because workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy against one's employer and the system doesn't allow for benefits beyond disability, medical cost reimbursement and death, damages such as pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment and loss of consortium aren't available through workers' compensation death benefits in Pennsylvania.
If the incident occurred in the course and scope of employment but on property not owned by the employer, or if a third party's negligence was otherwise responsible for the act of violence, then it may be possible to file a third-party liability claim for additional damages. An example of this might be a delivery truck driver who is robbed, beaten and shot in the parking lot of a grocery store while making a midnight delivery. In that case, the worker may file for workers' compensation damages for medical expenses, disability, and lost wages. The worker might also sue the grocery store for premises liability, specifically for negligent security (improper lighting, lack of security, etc.).
Each element has very specific requirements, so speaking to an experienced workers' compensation attorney is imperative.