New Report Shows Workplace Violence Declined from 1993-2009

March 29, 2011
On March 29, the Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) released a new publication, “Workplace Violence, 1993-2009,” that shows a decline in both workplace homicides and nonfatal, violent crimes in the workplace over the last 16 years.

Approximately 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including rape, robbery or assault, occurred against employees age 16 or older while they were at work or on duty in 2009 – a decline from the 2.1 million nonfatal violent crimes that occurred at the workplace in 1993. The number of homicides in the workplace decreased by 51 percent from a high of 1,068 homicides in 1993 to 521 homicides in 2009.

Some of the report’s highlights include:

  • Law enforcement personnel, security guards and bartenders had the highest rates of nonfatal workplace violence.
  • Employees in retail sales occupations had the highest rate of nonfatal, non-workplace violence.
  • Males had a higher rate of workplace violence and a slightly higher rate of non-workplace violence than females.
  • Non-Hispanic whites had a higher rate of workplace violence than non-Hispanic blacks, while non-Hispanic blacks had a higher rate of non-workplace violence than non-Hispanic whites.
  • Employed persons ages 20 to 34 had the highest rate of workplace violence, while those ages 16 to 19 had the highest rate of non-workplace violence.
  • Strangers committed about 53 percent of nonfatal workplace violence against males and about 41 percent against females.

At Work vs. Off Duty

According to the report, workers face a greater risk of workplace violence outside of work rather than when they’re on the clock. For example, employed persons 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 from 2005 to 2009.

Outside of work, the average annual rate of violence was 16 violent crimes per 1,000 employed persons ages 16 or older, while at work it was five violent crimes per 1,000. Persons not employed also experienced nonfatal violence (17 violent crimes per 1,000) at more than three times the rate of those in the workplace.

Workplace violence also was less likely to include serious, nonfatal violent crime than non-workplace violence and violence against persons not employed. About a fifth of workplace violence from 2005 through 2009 consisted of serious violent crime, compared to almost two-fifths of non-workplace violence and violence against persons not employed. Simple assault accounted for almost 80 percent of workplace violence against employed persons and around 60 percent each of non-workplace violence and violence against the persons not employed.

Finally, workplace violence was slightly less likely than non-workplace violence to be reported to police. Victims of workplace violence (13 percent) were also less likely to be injured than victims of non-workplace violence (29 percent). Firearms were present in about 5 percent of nonfatal workplace violence and about 10 percent of non-workplace violence.

Workplace Homicides

Among homicides in the workplace between 2005 and 2009, persons employed in sales or office occupations accounted for a third of the victims (33 percent), followed by persons employed in protective service occupations (17 percent). Shootings accounted for about 80 percent of all workplace homicides.

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, while non-Hispanic blacks represented about a fifth and Hispanics, a sixth.

Between 2005 and 2009, 38 percent of workplace homicide offenders were robbers and 32 percent were other assailants. 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.

The report’s findings on nonfatal violence in the workplace are based on data from the BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Findings on fatal violence in the workplace are based on preliminary and final data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

For more information, view the report online.

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