EHS Administration, Personnel Safety, Reporting

Workplace Homicides Peaked in 1994, Report Shows

On July 21, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced the release of a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the BJS, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) titled “Indicators of Workplace Violence, 2019” (NCJ 250748; NIOSH 2022-124). According to the report, workplace homicides peaked at 1,080 in 1994, then declined 58% over a 25-year period to 454 in 2019.

While workplace homicides declined overall between 1994 and 2019, they increased 11% during the more recent period from 2014 to 2019. There were 15 or more workplace homicides during 2019 in nine states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington.

Other data from the joint report included:

  • A total of 17,865 workers were victims of workplace homicides from 1992 to 2019.
  • The average annual rate of nonfatal workplace violence was 8.0 violent crimes per 1,000 workers aged 16 or older.
  • On average, 1.3 million nonfatal violent crimes in the workplace occurred annually.
  • An estimated 529,000 nonfatal injuries from workplace violence were treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) during a 5-year period from 2015 to 2019, according to data from NIOSH’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—Occupational Supplement.
  • The rate of ED-treated injuries from workplace violence was 7.1 per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.
  • Female workers had higher rates of nonfatal injuries (5.1 per 10,000) than male workers (2.3 per 10,000) due to workplace violence resulting in days away from work, according to data from the BLS’s Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) Case and Demographics.
  • Male workers accounted for 82% of the 340 nonfatal injuries due to workplace violence involving an intentional shooting that resulted in days away from work.

Moreover, ED-treated injuries were more common among younger victims than older victims, according to the report. Types of attacks seen in ED-treated injuries included physical assaults (hitting, kicking, or beating), accounting for 83% of such injuries, which most often were abrasions and contusions (33%), followed by sprains and strains (12%) and traumatic brain injuries (12%).

Types of nonfatal violence included rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault, according to the BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Additionally, workers in corrections occupations had the highest average annual rate of nonfatal workplace violence at 149.1 per 1,000 workers among all occupations measured.

In other findings from the NCVS, strangers committed about half (47%) of nonfatal workplace violence during the period from 2015 to 2019, and male victims were less likely than female victims to know the offender. The offender was unarmed in 78% of nonfatal workplace violence, and the victim sustained an injury in 12%. Also, 15% of victims of nonfatal workplace violence reported severe emotional distress due to the crime, according to the report.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a rulemaking in the pre-rule stage for a federal workplace violence standard for health care and social assistance. Petitions from the National Nurses Union and a coalition of labor unions for the rulemaking were granted on January 10, 2017, in the final days of the Obama administration, and OSHA is preparing for a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) review of the rulemaking.

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