Workplace violence

Nurses describe their experience as victims of, or as witnesses of, violence in the workplace

Workplace violence (WPV) or occupational violence refers to violence, usually in the form of physical abuse or threat, that creates a risk to the health and safety of an employee or multiple employees.[1]


According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, violence and other injuries caused by persons or animals contributed to 17% of all occupational fatalities, with homicides contributing to 10% of the total.[2] From 1992 to 2010, there were 13,827 reported workplace homicide victims, averaging over 700 victims per year, in the United States.[3] Examination of the 2011 data shows that while a majority of workplace fatalities occurred to males, workplace violence disproportionately affects females. Homicides contributed to 21% of all occupational fatalities for women, compared to 9% for men.[2] Of these homicides, relatives or domestic partners contributed to 39% of female homicide cases; male homicide cases were most likely to be perpetrated by robbers, contributing to 36% of male homicide cases.[2]

Most cases of workplace violence turn out to be non-fatal incidents. From 1993 to 1999, an average of about 1.7 million people were victimized each year in cases of occupational violence.[3] About 75% of these cases are considered simple assault, while 19% of cases are considered aggravated assault.[3]

Deadly examples


Dr. Arnold H. Buss, of the University of Texas at Austin (1961),[16] identified eight types of workplace aggression:

In a study performed by Baron and Neuman,[17] researchers found pay cuts and pay freezes, use of part-time employees, change in management, increased diversity, computer monitoring of employee performance, reengineering, and budget cuts were all significantly linked to increased workplace aggression. The study also showed a substantial amount of evidence linking unpleasant physical conditions (high temperature, poor lighting) and high negative affect, which facilitates workplace aggression.[18]

Risk assessments

In the United Kingdom there is a legal obligation to complete risk assessments for both physical and psychosocial workplace hazards. Other countries have similar occupational health and safety legislation in place relating to identifying and either eliminating or controlling for hazards in the workplace. Workplace violence is considered to be a significant hazard in its own right. Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that, “every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

Occupational groups at higher risk

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists the following higher risk occupations.[19]

Health care workers are at high risk for experiencing violence in the workplace. Examples of violence include threats, physical assaults, and muggings. According to estimates of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work was 15.1 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012.[20] This rate is much higher than the rate for total private industries, which is 4.0 per 10,000 full-time workers.

Monitoring workplace violence trends is essential to identifying targeted prevention strategies. The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) is a secure electronic surveillance system developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to address health and safety risks among health care personnel. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can upload the occupational injury data they already collect to the secure database for analysis and benchmarking with other de-identified facilities. NIOSH works with OHSN participants in identifying and implementing timely and targeted interventions. OHSN modules currently focus on three high risk and preventable events that can lead to injuries or musculoskeletal disorders among healthcare personnel: musculoskeletal injuries from patient handling activities; slips, trips, and falls; and workplace violence. OHSN enrollment is open to all healthcare facilities.

See also


  1. "Occupational Violence". WorkSafe. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2011" (PDF). US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "CDC - Occupational Violence - NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  4. Lamar Jr, Jacob V. (June 24, 2001). ""Crazy Pat's" Revenge". Time.
  7. Magnuson, Ed (June 24, 2001). "David Burke's Deadly Revenge". Time.
  8. 1 2 "Three keys to reducing workplace violence risks". Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  9. 1 2 3 "The Growing Epidemic of Deadly Workplace Violence and Three Ways to Prevent It -- Occupational Health & Safety". Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  10. CNN, Steve Almasy, Kyung Lah and Alberto Moya. "14 killed in San Bernardino shooting; suspect ID'd". CNN. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  11. "Retired state trooper kills two in Pennsylvania toll plaza shooting". Reuters. 2016-03-21. Retrieved 2016-05-09.
  16. Buss, AH (1961). The Psychology of Aggression.
  17. Baron, RA; Neuman, HA. "Workplace violence and workplace aggression: Evidence on their relative frequency and potential causes". Aggressive Behavior. 22: 161–173. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(1996)22:3<161::AID-AB1>3.0.CO;2-Q.
  18. Workplace Violence and Workplace Aggression: Evidence and Their Relative Frequency and Potential Causes., retrieved February 24, 2009
  19. Violence in the Workplace, retrieved May 8, 2008
  20. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2014.

External links

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