Violence by Persons or Animals
Being safe at work is a reasonable expectation. Regardless of the normal and expected occupational hazards, few people anticipate being injured or killed on-the-job as a result of another individual’s violent actions; yet in this day and age, violence toward coworkers and business associates has sadly become somewhat more of a common occurrence.
Although people who work in industrial and construction-related jobs are usually prepared to face the everyday hazards common to more risky occupations, it is much more difficult to predict when a violent episode involving a disgruntled or mentally unstable employee might take place. As workers’ compensation death benefit claims attorneys, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall understand how a senseless on-the-job killing can shake a victim’s family to the very core.
Sudden and often unexpected, workplace violence affects approximately two million people every year in the U.S. While many instances do not result in loss of life, the threat of a fatal workplace shooting, stabbing or other violent incident is nonetheless always a possibility in a high-stress industrial setting. But manufacturing and construction workers are not the only at-risk groups; retail workers — especially those who deal with the public at the point of sale — can often be targeted by desperate individuals.
Over the years, workplace violence has become more and more of a concern, not only for employees, but also for employers as they try to keep their workforce safe from physical harm. The occupations that are quite often at risk include the following:
- Cashiers and counter workers who routinely exchange money with customers
- Bus, taxi and limousine drivers
- Delivery truck operators (including UPS, FedEx and USPS drivers)
- Individuals involved in door-to-door sales
- Mailmen and postal carriers
- Nightshift and early morning employees
- Gas station and convenience store clerks
- Waiters and waitresses at all-night cafés and restaurants
- Visiting nurses, social workers and other home healthcare personnel
- Waste collection personnel
- Cable TV and telephone service technicians
- Meter readers and utility employees
These are just a few of the at-risk professions; but anyone who has extensive contact with the public can face a higher risk of being killed or injured while on the job. Just like any workplace hazard, employers should train and prepare employees for the eventuality of a violent incident during the course of the workday. Naturally, the best protection that many employers can provide involves a “zero-tolerance” policy against any violence in the workplace, either by an employee or against one.
Violence prevention programs and related materials should be provided to workers in their employee handbooks and as part of a corporation’s operating procedures. Some of the more common safeguards to prevent or reduce the incidents of workplace violence include the following:
- Providing useful information on preventing violence as part of plant or workplace safety education for every employee
- Making the workplace as secure as possible, with the use of video surveillance, strategically placed lighting, alarm systems, and reducing the chances of unauthorized access by outsiders through the use of ID badges, electronic keycards, and security personnel
- Providing “drop safes” in order to limit excessive amounts of cash on hand at any one time
- Providing off-site personnel (delivery drivers, salespeople, service personnel, etc.) with company-issued cellphones and/or hand-held alarm or noisemaking devices
- Maintaining company-owned vehicles in proper working order to avoid employees becoming stranded due to mechanical failure, etc.
- Requiring at-risk employees to create a daily work plan; staying in regular contact with managers/supervisors throughout the day; using the “buddy system” during days/times when risk of violence is high
- Create corporate policies/procedures to cover at-home visitations by healthcare providers. Establish guidelines for conducting home visits, as well as identifying other individuals in the home during those visits; make certain that workers have the right to refuse to provide services when a hazardous situation in a client’s home clearly exists
Shocking as it may seem, about 10 percent of all workplace deaths in New Jersey involve a homicide on the job. Although the trend has been decreasing over recent years, homicide still remains one of the top five causes of death for employees on the job. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not provide specific regulations to prevent violence in the workplace, it is still the responsibility of every employer to ensure the safety of his or her employees while they are working.
This general responsibility comes from the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which specifically states that an employer shall furnish to each employee a place of employment that is “free from recognized hazards” causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Similarly, the survivors of an employee who sustains fatal injuries as the result of contact with an animal while on the job should be compensated in the form of workers’ compensation death benefits. Farm workers, slaughterhouse personnel, pest and animal control employees can all face the potential of being killed or injured while performing their prescribed work duties.New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act
Workplace fatalities are some of the most tragic, since the victims are usually hard-working individuals trying to make a living and supporting their family. When a senseless killing takes the life of an innocent person simply doing his or her job, there are few words of comfort that alleviate the grief felt by the victim’s family.
However, because of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act, the victim’s spouse, children and any other dependents typically qualify for death benefits, which can ease the financial burden that usually follows in the wake of a breadwinner’s death. Survivors who may qualify for death benefits include:
- Surviving spouse
- Civil union partner
- Natural children (up to 18 years of age; 23 years for full-time students)
- Parents, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, etc.
It is important to note that any survivors who wish to claim survival benefits following a loved one’s death must prove actual dependency at the time of the worker’s death. For dependent children who are physically or mentally disabled, they may have further benefits under the law. New Jersey workers’ compensation rules also state that the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier must pay upward of $3,500 for funeral expenses for any worker who suffers a job-related death.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our skilled attorneys have decades of experience representing the survivors of workers killed in accidents on the job. Our legal staff has the know-how and training to help your family through a difficult time by successfully prosecuting dependency death claims in Essex, Passaic, Union and Monmouth counties, and all across the Garden State.
Our New Jersey Workers’ compensation lawyers are here to assist you. Please contact Daniel Santarsiero, Esq., at (800) 999-0897 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Following your initial meeting, if you choose to retain our law firm, we will represent your family on a contingent fee basis (there will be no legal fees charged to you unless we make a recovery on your behalf). We are experts in the field of workplace death benefit claims and can guide you through the process so that your family can receive its rightful compensation under New Jersey law.