Workplace Violence – Does Your Risk Management Assessment Cover It?

The events of last Friday are an uncomfortable reminder of the dangers that everyone in our society faces.  If a mass killing can occur in an elementary school in a small town in Connecticut, it can occur anywhere in our country.  While it is difficult, if not impossible to predict, when and where such an act of seemingly random violence will occur, many studies have been done on the predictors of workplace violence and what can be done to reduce the risk of such violence occurring.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, during 2009 and 2010 (the latest years for which hard data is available) 1,060 people were murdered while on the job.  Of that number, 79% were killed with guns.  With a homicide rate of almost 1.5 people per day, any risk management assessment should include the possibility of work place violence and what is being done by the business owner to address that risk.  A few years ago, the Workers Compensation Division of the Texas Department of Insurance issued a fact sheet on what can be done by employers to reduce the risk of workplace violence.  Many  of the suggestions are of the common sense variety (e.g., train managers and supervisors in conflict resolution procedures), but there are some good suggestions for employment policies and security measures that can be implemented. (Click here for the full fact sheet.)

Insurance coverages for workplace violence incidents are available in the specialty markets, as well as from established multi-line carriers like Travelers.  If this subject has not been on the list of risks for producers to discuss with their commercial lines accounts, it should be put on that list.  Unfortunately, as this past year has shown, the risk of violence in our society is not on a downward trend.