NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :58
An average 20 workers are murdered and another 18,000 become the victims of nonfatal assaults in the workplace each week in the U.S. While all workers are potentially at risk for such attacks, surveillance data indicate that the largest number of workplace homicides occur in retail trade (38%) and service (17%) sectors. The largest number of nonfatal workplace assaults occur in the service sector (64%), particularly in nursing homes (27%) and hospitals (11%). The highest rates of workplace homicide occur in retail trade (1.60 per 100,000 workers) and public administration (1.30). Homicide is the leading cause of occupational injury death for women in the workplace and the second leading cause of death overall. For homicides, men are at three times higher risk than women, but for nonfatal assaults women are at slightly higher risk than men. Risk factors for workplace violence include dealing with the public, the exchange of money, and the delivery of services or goods. Prevention strategies include environmental designs (e.g., visibility and lighting, cash-handling devices, and bullet-resistant barriers), administrative controls (e.g., staffing plans and violence prevention policies) and behavioral strategies (e.g., training in nonviolent response to robbery). There are, however, very little scientific data as to the effectiveness of these strategies in various settings, either alone or in combination. Research on workplace violence (surveillance and risk factor research) is made more difficult by the lack of complete victim, perpetrator, risk factor, and exposure information. The description of the nature and magnitude of this problem has, to date, relied on information collected for other purposes (e.g., death certificates, workers' compensation files) or as part of a larger criminal justice information system (e.g., victimization surveys). Future research on workplace violence will have to address the limitations of existing data and focus heavily on evaluating the efficacy of prevention strategies in various settings.