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Workers' comp benefits could be awarded after employee stabbing

Workplace violence is a very real threat for Maryland workers in a variety of industries. From convenience store workers to hospital personnel, scores of employees are vulnerable to violent injuries in the state every day. This is also true in other jurisdictions. For example, one Florida company is contesting a $10,500 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after one of its workers was stabbed to death in late 2012.

That health-management company, Integra, is currently in the midst of a legal proceeding that could determine whether it can be held liable by the federal agency for the young woman's death. That legal decision could impact the woman's family's ability to receive workers' comp benefits.

Reports show that the 25-year-old victim, a recent graduate of the University of South Florida, was stabbed to death by a patient in December 2012. The victim was visiting the man's home when the incident occurred. She was stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife. The defendant in that case remains hospitalized because of his mental illness.

Questions about the company's safety policies began to surface shortly after the woman's death. Representatives with OSHA say that the organization tolerated unsafe working conditions and failed to adequately train employees about safety protocol. Case workers such as the victim were trained extensively in relating to clients, according to other Integra workers -- however, safety was not emphasized during the online training modules. Still other witnesses, such as the company's chief executive officer, testified that safety procedures were in place, and they should not be held liable for the woman's death.

The company is being targeted by the victim's family through a wrongful death lawsuit. A fine has been levied by OSHA against the company for failing to even report the victim's death. Companies such as Integra should not be allowed to promote such unsafe working conditions -- the firm reportedly lacked any kind of workplace violence prevention program. Employees should not have to worry about unnecessary workplace injury accidents caused by their employer's blatant negligence.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "Integra employees testify in OSHA inquiry into Stephanie Nicole Ross' stabbing death" Lisa Buie, May. 08, 2014

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