Homicide is the second leading cause of death in the workplace; the leading cause of occupational injury death among females and workers under 18 years old. However, men are three times more likely to be killed by workplace violence than women.
Indiana is ready to pull the trigger on legislation that will allow employees to bring guns to work, as long as the guns remain in locked vehicles. Firearms are involved in 76% of workplace homicides, followed by cutting or piercing instruments.
Proponents of this legislation argue that the majority of workplace homicides are robbery related crimes (71%) with only 9% committed by coworkers or former coworkers. In contrast, the American Journal of Public Health (2005) found that employers who did not prohibit guns at work were seven-times more likely to have incidents of workplace homicide.
Certain industries and occupations have greater exposure. The taxicab industry has the highest rate of workplace homicides, nearly 60 times the national average rate of 0.7/100,000. That industry is followed by liquor stores, detective/protective services, gas service stations, and jewelry stores.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revealed an average of 20 workers a week are murdered at the workplace in the United States. Moreover, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates there are two million cases of nonfatal workplace violence each year.
Risk factors for violence include working with the public; exchanging money; delivering services or goods; working alone, at night or early morning hours; guarding valuables and dealing with violent people or volatile situations.
The majority of nonfatal assaults occur in the service industry and retail trades. Nursing homes had the highest percentage (27%), followed by social services (13%), hospitals (11%), grocery stores (6%) and eating and drinking places (5%).
In a study of 280 cases of non-robbery workplace violence, it was determined that 94% of the perpetrators were men. An overwhelming number of these men were between 35 and 45 years of age. Of those perpetrators, 44% were employees, 23% were former employees, 21% involved domestic disputes, and 13% were client- type relationships.
Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment. An organizational approach to violence prevention is better than having an incident-focus. This strategic approach improves quality of life and employee behaviors. This approach is in addition to common practices such as, effective pre-employment screening; physical security measures (limit entry, provide adequate lighting); policies and practices that prohibit and encourage reporting acts of violence, including intimidation and harassment. In 85% of workplace violence incidents, warning signs were present long before the violence occurred; encourage reporting.
Don’t Ignore The Signs
These are not indicators that the person will become violent; however these are signs that should be addressed. Talk to the person. Avoiding an employee exhibiting these behaviors is a mistake.
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