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Kentucky Safety Alert: Women as Victims of Workplace Violence

July 9, 2020
State agency issues alert as cases of violence against women remain significantly higher than men.

American women are disproportionately affected by violence in the workplace, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, homicides are second leading cause of occupational deaths in the female working population.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center recently issued a hazard alert to educate employers about this hazard.

Recent state data indicates that between 1998-2018,  33 women were workplace homicide victims, comprising 22% of all female workplace fatalities. Men accounted for 5% of workplace fatalities in the same period.

Homicides are only second to motor vehicle crashes in occupational fatalities in the state for women.

Two cases in the hazard alert highlighted the dangers women face in the workplace:

Case 1: A 35-year-old office manager was sitting at her desk when her estranged boyfriend entered the place of business and shot her multiple times in the chest and head. After his capture by authorities, it was discovered that the victim had previously taken out three separate restraining orders against the ex-partner. After several years, the perpetrator pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Case 2: A 66-year-old caregiver at a residential care facility attempted to break up a fight between two residents when one resident stabbed and slashed her 139 times with a kitchen knife. Her body was discovered two hours later by a co-worker. The perpetrator was deemed to be mentally incompetent by prosecutors and he was ordered to be involuntarily hospitalized at a mental health center for an indeterminate period.

The agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health recommends the following preventative measures:

  • Develop and implement a workplace violence prevention program. Include a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence.
  • Perform a worksite analysis to determine an organization’s vulnerability to violence.
  • Train all employees to recognize the indicators of poten tial violence by a co-worker, such as outbursts of anger, depression, or increase in paranoia.
  • Implement security measures at worksites that keep employees safe. This may include perimeter cameras, security guards, or assigned key-cards.
  • Conduct background screenings upon hiring new employees to check if they have a history of violence in their past.

Additional information and resources are available in the hazard alert.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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