Violence in the Workplace
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 96-100
Current Intelligence Bulletin 57
Current Efforts and Future Directions: Research and Prevention
Although we are beginning to have descriptive information about workplace violence, a number of research questions remain:
- What are the specific tasks and environments that place workers at greatest risk?
- What factors influence the lethality of violent incidents?
- What are the relationships of workplace assault victims to offenders?
- Are there identifiable precipitating events?
- Were there any safety measures in place?
- What were the actions of the victim and did they influence the outcome of the attack?
- What are the most effective prevention strategies?
These questions should also be addressed in developing violence prevention strategies for specific workplaces.
A number of these questions were raised in 1990 at a workshop convened by NIOSH. They continue to require attention through the collaborative research and prevention efforts of public health, human resource, and criminal justice professionals. A number of other recommendations were made by a panel of experts in interpersonal violence on directions for NIOSH in this area [NIOSH 1992]. These recommendations have been implemented or initiated and include efforts to
- improve the quality of death certificate data,
- compare findings from NTOF, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
- conduct evaluation research to determine the effectiveness of various prevention strategies,
- disseminate information on workplace homicide risk,
- examine possibilities for collection and analysis of data on nonfatal workplace violence, and
- increase collaboration between public health and criminal justice agencies.
In the fall of 1993, NIOSH released an Alert on preventing homicide in the workplace [NIOSH 1993] and encouraged employers, workers, unions, and others with a vested interest to look at their workplaces and take immediate action to reduce the risk for workplace homicide. In related efforts, NIOSH responded to numerous requests from the media, resulting in print, radio, and television coverage of the data and the NIOSH prevention message: Although no single intervention strategy is appropriate for all workplaces and no definitive strategies can be recommended at this time, immediate action should be taken to reduce the toll of workplace homicide on our Nation’s workforce. This message still holds true and applies not only to workplace homicide, but to all workplace violence. Clearly, violence is pervasive in U.S. workplaces, accounting for 1,071 homicides in 1994 and approximately a million nonfatal assaults each year. NIOSH continues to pursue research and prevention efforts to reduce the risk of workplace violence for the Nation’s workers. The murder of an average of 20 workers each week is unacceptable and should not be considered the cost of doing business in our society.