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Workplace violence among Pennsylvania education workers: differences among occupations.

Tiesman-H; Konda-S; Hendricks-S; Mercer-D; Amandus-H
J Saf Res 2013 Feb; 44(Special Issue):65-71
Problem: The literature on education employees as victims of workplace violence (WPV) is limited. Moreover, prior studies have focused primarily on teachers. The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence and characteristics of physical and non-physical WPV in a state-based cohort of education workers. Method: A state-wide sample of 6,450 workers was drawn using de-identified union membership lists provided by Pennsylvania's education unions. The sample was stratified on gender, occupation, and school location. Occupational groups included special education teachers, general education teachers, pupil service professionals, education support personnel, and teaching aides. A cross-sectional survey was mailed to participants. Analyses were performed using Proc SURVEY methods in SAS. Results: An estimated 7.8% (95%CI = 6.6 - 9.1) of education workers were physically assaulted and 28.9% (95%CI = 26.4 - 31.5) experienced a non-physical WPV event during the 2009-2010 school year. Special education teachers were significantly more likely to be physically assaulted and experience a non-physical WPV event compared to general education teachers (Prevalence Rate Ratio = 3.6, 95% 2.4-5.5; PRR = 1.4, 95%CI = 1.1 - 1.8). The majority of education workers were physically assaulted during regular school hours (97%) by a student (95%). Education support personnel experienced a large percentage of physical assaults perpetrated by co-workers (36%). The most common perpetrator of non-physical WPV was a student (73%); however, 15% of non-physical events were perpetrated by co-workers. Discussion: Special education teachers were at the highest risk for both physical and non-physical WPV. Education support personnel experienced a high percentage of WPV perpetrated by co-workers. If not already present, schools should consider implementing comprehensive WPV prevention programs for their employees. Impact on Industry: Those employed in a school setting are at risk for physical and non-physical WPV. Special education teachers have unique workplace hazards. Strategies that protect the special education teacher, while still protecting the special education student should be considered.
Workers; Work-areas; Work-environment; Force; Physiological-effects; Humans; Men; Women; Education; Teaching; Statistical-analysis; Hazards; Risk-factors; Injuries; Surveillance; Author Keywords: nonfatal injuries; workplace violence; education; occupational safety and health
Hope Teisman, NIOSH, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, M/S 1811, Morgantown, WV 26506
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Journal of Safety Research