Work is Less Likely to Kill You: Workplace Violence on the Decline

Workplace Violence You might think your work is slowly killing you or that your job is murder, but the truth is that the incidents of homicide and non-fatal violent crimes in the workplace are on the decline. The number of these occurrences is actually down to about a quarter of what it was in the '90s.

Sure these kinds of crimes make the headlines, and the more than 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes -- rape, robbery, or assault -- that occurred against people age 16 or older while they were at work or on duty in the most recent year, seems like a huge number. But a study done by Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on workplace violence shows that number is about 75 percent less than the 2.1 million nonfatal violent crimes that occurred at the workplace in 1993.

Along with the decline in nonfatal workplace violence, the number of homicides in the workplace decreased by 51 percent from a high of 1,068 homicides in 1993 to 521 homicides most recently.

In fact, you're actually safer at work than you are on your own time. In the past five years, workers age 16 or older experienced nonfatal violence outside of work, at a rate that was three times higher than the rate of nonfatal violence while at work or on duty.

Outside of work, the average annual rate of violence was 16 violent crimes per 1,000 employed people, while at work that number dropped to five violent crimes for every 1,000 people. Unemployed people also experienced nonfatal violence at more than three times the rate of those in the workplace.

Who's in the most danger?

When it comes to non-fatal work place violence, it should come as no surprise that those with the riskiest jobs are law enforcement personnel, security guards and bartenders. But when it comes to homicides, those employed in sales or office occupations accounted for a third of the victims (33 percent), followed by people employed in protective service occupations (17 percent). Shootings accounted for about 80 percent of all workplace homicides.

Other findings show:
  • Four out of five victims of workplace homicide were male.
  • About 48 percent of workplace homicide victims were between the ages of 35 and 54.
  • Non-Hispanic whites accounted for about half of all workplace homicide victims.
  • Non-Hispanic blacks represented about a fifth of all workplace victims.
  • Hispanics represented a sixth.
  • Males had a higher rate of workplace violence than females.
  • Strangers committed about 53 percent of nonfatal workplace violence against males and about 41 percent against females.
  • Victims of workplace violence (13 percent) were also less likely to be injured than victims of non-workplace violence (29 percent).
  • Work associates-including current and former co-workers, customers, and clients-accounted for about 21 percent of workplace homicide offenders.
  • Spouses, relatives and other personal acquaintances accounted for about 8 percent of offenders.

Of course, even a single violent crime committed against anyone is too many, but it would appear that both employers and employees are now safer at work than they were 15-20 years ago.

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