Healthcare and Medicine Reference
The US Department of Labor (2011) defines workplace violence as any
act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other
threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the workplace. It ranges
from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.
Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational inju-
ries in the United States. Of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that
occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.
Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of work-
place violence each year. Unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.
Romano, Levi-Minzi, Rugala, and Van Hasselt (2011) report that an
average of 20 workers are murdered each week in the US, making homi-
cide the second highest cause of workplace deaths and the leading one for
females. Eighteen thousand non-fatal violent crimes such as sexual and
other assaults also occur each week while the victim is working, or about a
million a year. The actual figures are probably higher since many are not
reported. The Institute notes that “Certain dangerous occupations like
police officers understandably have higher rates of homicide and non-fatal
assaults. Nevertheless, postal workers who work in a safe environment have
experienced so many fatalities due to job stress that 'going postal' has crept
into our language” (p. 1).
Workplace violence can strike anywhere, anytime, and no one is
immune. According to the US Department of Labor (2011) , research has
identified factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers,
which include exchanging money with the public and working with vol-
atile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas may also con-
tribute to the potential for violence. Providing services and care, and
working where alcohol is served may also impact the likelihood of vio-
lence. Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working
late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors that
should be considered when addressing issues of workplace violence.
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