In 2014, Georgia’s Safe Carry Protection Act went into effect. This law greatly expanded the list of places where licensed gun owners are permitted to legally carry a firearm. This new Act was a further expansion of a 2008 law permitting employees to bring firearms to work and keep them in the company parking lot.
Although the Safe Carry Protection Act greatly broadens gun rights, employers can still prohibit the possession of firearms on their property. Employers can create policies that prevent workers from bringing guns into their specific place of business, although employers cannot do anything to prevent workers from keeping their weapons in their cars.
Georgia is one of 22 states in the U.S. that protect the rights of gun owners to bring their guns to workplace parking lots. Many employers, however, grapple with the question of whether allowing guns inside of a business will reduce or increase workplace violence. An employee who is the victim of violence at work can generally make a workers’ comp claim, and employers should have sensible policies in place to try to prevent acts of aggression at work. Workplace violence victims should consult an Atlanta work accident lawyer for help understanding their rights and pursuing a claim.
Workplace Violence Risks and Atlanta Gun Laws
Workplace violence is a major problem at job sites throughout the United States. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are around two million reports each year of workplace violence. Many cases of violence or aggression at work probably go unreported, so the problem may be even bigger than official statistics suggest.
Certain populations of workers are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of violence on-the-job. This includes:
- People who work where alcohol is served.
- People who work in professions that require exposure to volatile individuals.
- People who work in remote or isolated areas, especially if they work there alone.
- People who work late at night.
- People who work in dangerous areas with high rates of crime.
- People who work in jobs that require them to exchange money with members of the public.
It is not clear whether these vulnerable workers, or other employees, are more or less safe if they are allowed to bring their gun to work. Some gun rights advocates allow that ready access to firearms can help to protect employees. A nightshift gas station worker, for example, may benefit from having a firearm to protect himself in case of potential robberies. Others, however, argue that guns can exacerbate the risks of workplace violence and cause situations to escalate.
The Wall Street Journal reports that there are 375 workers who lost their lives in shootings on-the-job over the course of the year. The Journal also quoted a 2005 study showing that workplaces that permitted guns were around five times more likely to have a worker be killed on-the-job. Some employers, concerned about these risks, are taking affirmative steps like rewriting HR policies to prohibit weapons; enhancing security when workers are fired; and providing training to detect early signs of aggression.
Despite employer best efforts, workplace violence remains a real danger. Victims of violence can usually make a workers’ comp claim, even if their employer has not been negligent in protecting them or ensuring their safety.
The Atlanta work injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. have extensive experience with workers’ compensation claims. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation if you need help making a workers’ compensation claim.