Workplace Attacks Continue, but Experts Say Incidents Under-reported

19 Oct, 2021 Liz Carey

                               

Manhattan, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) – Despite media reporting an increasing number of attacks on employees in the workplace, experts say the number of fatal and non-fatal injuries as a result of workplace violence will likely be under-reported for 2020 and 2021. 

Terri Mock, with Rave Mobile Safety, said that workplace violence is expected to worsen when statistics for 2020 are reported, but the number will still be less than reality. 

Under-reported workplace violence is not new, she said in her blog post. 

“In 2014, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine published a report in which it found 90 percent of surveyed organizations were not complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting regulations,” she wrote. “The following year, NSC Injury Facts claimed large discrepancies existed between the number of reported injuries and the number of worker compensation claims.” 

Despite many employees working from home, those who continue to work on-site during the COVID-19 pandemic, have faced increasing levels of violence. 

This past week saw three incidents of violence in the workplace. 

In Manhattan, a security guard at the Apple store in Chelsea was stabbed by a customer who refused to wear a mask. 

According to surveillance video released by the police, the suspect approached the store around 6:30 on Oct. 8. When the security guard asked him to wear a mask, the suspect went into a rage and began fighting with the guard, Alejandro Sosa. 

The attacker then pulled out a knife and stabbed the 37-year-old Sosa a number of times in the back, forehead and arms. The attacker then fled the store. 

Sosa was taken to Bellevue Hospital, officials said, and treated for his injuries. His attacker has not been arrested, officials said. 

On Oct. 11, a customer entered a Food Lion in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and stabbed a grocery store employee there. 

Police were called to the Food Lion around 7 p.m. on Monday, regarding a stabbing. Officials said they found Keshawn Jerquez Jenkins inside the store suffering from multiple stab wounds to his legs. 

Officials said the suspect entered the Food Lion with the knife and confronted Jenkins who was working at the time. The two were involved in a physical altercation at which point the suspect stabbed Jenkins and then rushed out of the store. 

No motive has been determined in the incident yet. Jenkins was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but was expected to survive. 

And on Oct. 13, a Connecticut man was arrested for stabbing a fellow co-worker at the fairgrounds where the two lived and worked. 

Police in Fryeburg, Maine, said that a Connecticut man was charged with stabbing his co-worker after a night of drinking and fighting. 

Carlos A. Negron is charged with intentional murder in the death of Anderson Gomes, 28, of Waterbury Connecticut. 

Both men, police said, worked at the fair and were housed on the fairgrounds. Police said that Gomes was drunk and angry that he was not one of the workers given a ride back to Connecticut earlier in the day. Because of that, he got into a fight with another male coworker, and allegedly struck that man’s girlfriend. 

When Negron saw the fight, he “scooped Gomes up and started punching him,” a witness said. The witness did not realize Negron was actually stabbing Gomes, police said. 

Gomes died of multiple stab wounds, the Office of the Chief Maine Medical examiner said. Negron admitted to police that he carried a knife with a blade that extends when you push a button, and that he left the scene and threw the knife into a field. Gomes was dead when the police arrived, the affidavit in the case said. 

According to a report in HR Daily Advisor, the stress of the pandemic has increased stress levels in employees while lowering the thresholds for confrontation. Morris said it was likely we’ll never know how many confrontations escalated into workplace violence. Businesses fail to report non-fatal injuries due to a lack of awareness, the report said, or due to a lack of communication and/or incentive. 

In her piece “7 reasons employees don’t report workplace violence,” Carol Fredickson said that many employees and employers just don’t understand how violence at work is defined. Other reasons include fear of retaliation, fear of becoming the “office snitch,” fear of a supervisor’s reaction, lack of company policies and procedures, and lack of training.


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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