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Workplace violence: Sometimes unexpectedly quiet

Media outlets throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio — and the rest of the world — provided extensive coverage of the killings of a reporter and cameraman on live TV last month. The chilling video was a graphic illustration of workplace violence. While the shootings made headlines for days, experts say most nonlethal violence is kept quiet afterwards by employers.

Even though the nonlethal violence can result in injuries to one or more workers, the incidents might not even be counted as workplace violence, the CEO of a human resources consultancy says. "The aggressor gets terminated and the injured person gets treated under workers' comp and so it doesn't necessarily get counted as violence in the workplace."

The HR consultant told National Public Radio that after the aggressor is fired, companies want life to return to normal as quickly as possible. They don't want bad publicity and they do want employees to get back to focusing on their jobs. Employers figure that the termination of the aggressor brings an unpleasant episode to its conclusion, the consultant says. "In fact, that's the beginning of the safety process," she told NPR.

The U.S. Department of Labor says that when a worker threatens co-workers, customers or managers, it can be appropriate to call 911 or law enforcement. Also contact the supervisor and if needed, make sure everyone is safe.

Later, document the incident, says Labor Department. If you have been injured, get medical attention and report the injury to your employer. Some physical injuries sustained in violent on-the-job incidents might be accompanied by emotional trauma or mental difficulties.

If your claim for workers' compensation is denied, you have the right to have an attorney represent you in appeals hearings and related procedures.

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