Highlights from a New Report on Indicators of Workplace ViolencePosted on by
Federal agencies recently published a joint statistical report on workplace violence entitled Indicators of Workplace Violence, 2019. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined incidents of fatal and nonfatal violence that occurred against persons at work or on duty, or violence that was away from work but over work-related issues from 1992 to 2019. The report includes data for 13 indicators of workplace violence from five federal data collections. The purpose of this report was to make summary data from a variety of sources readily available. It does not attempt to explore reasons for workplace violence.
The study found that, over a 27-year period (1992 to 2019), 17,865 persons were killed in a workplace homicide, according to data from BLS’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Homicides in the workplace peaked at 1,080 homicides in 1994 and dropped to 454 in 2019, a decline of 58%. During a more recent period from 2014 (409 homicides) to 2019, workplace homicides increased 11%. The remainder of the report’s analysis on workplace homicide focuses on data from 2015 to 2019.
From 2015 to 2019:
- 21% of victims of workplace homicides worked in sales and related occupations. Protective-service occupations, notably police officers and security guards, accounted for 19% of workplace homicides. Persons in management occupations (e.g., owners or managers of restaurants and hotels) accounted for 9% of workplace homicides.
- 82% of victims of workplace homicide were male.
- 46% (1,052) of workplace homicide victims were white. White individuals also made up 66% of all workplace fatalities. Black individuals accounted for 25% (579) of workplace homicides and experienced 11% of all workplace fatalities. Hispanic individuals accounted for 16% (368) of workplace homicides and 18% of all workplace fatalities.
- 66% of workplace homicide victims were ages 25 to 54.
- 23% of victims of workplace homicides were self-employed.
- 79% of workplace homicides were shootings.
Nonfatal Workplace Violence
Workplace violence crimes
In 2019, the rate of nonfatal workplace violence was 9.2 violent crimes per 1,000 workers ages 16 or older, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). This was a 25% increase from 2015, when the rate was 7.4 per 1,000. However, it was 70% lower than the 1994 rate of 31.0 violent crimes per 1,000 workers. The rate of total nonfatal violent crime followed a similar pattern.
- An annual average of 1.3 million nonfatal workplace violent victimizations occurred during the combined 5 years from 2015 to 2019, including about 53,000 rapes or sexual assaults, 46,000 robberies, 186,000 aggravated assaults, and 979,000 simple assaults per year.
- The average annual rate of nonfatal workplace violence was 8.0 nonfatal violent crimes per 1,000 workers ages 16 or older.
- Males committed the majority of nonfatal workplace violence (64%).
- Strangers committed about half (47%) of nonfatal workplace violence, with male victims less likely than female victims to know the offender.
- The offender was armed in 16% of nonfatal workplace violence.
- Offenders were armed in about 24% of nonfatal workplace violence against workers in retail sales and in 24% of nonfatal workplace violence against those in transportation occupations.
- Overall, 12% of nonfatal workplace violence involved injury to the victim. However, nearly a quarter (23%) of nonfatal workplace violence against workers in medical occupations resulted in victim injury.
- Fifteen percent of victims of nonfatal workplace violence reported severe emotional distress due to the crime.
- About 39% of all nonfatal workplace violence was reported to police.
|Table 1. Occupations with the highest average annual victimization rate of nonfatal workplace violence, by occupation, 2015-2019|
|Occupation||Rate per 1,000 workers|
|Law enforcement officers||82.9|
|Gas station attendants||59.4|
|Mental health professionals||46.1|
Emergency department-treated workplace violence injuries
About 529,000 nonfatal injuries from workplace violence were treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs) for the combined 2015 to 2019 period, based on data from NIOSH’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Occupational Supplement. This was a rate of 7.1 ED-treated injuries per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. Physical assaults (e.g., hitting, kicking, or beating) accounted for 83% of such injuries. The ED-treated injuries were most often contusions and abrasions (33%), followed by sprains and strains (12%) and traumatic brain injuries (12%). Beginning with workers ages 25 to 29, the rate of ED-treated injuries due to workplace violence decreased as workers’ ages increased.
Workplace violence injuries resulting in days away from work
In 2019, female workers (5.1 cases per 10,000 FTEs) had higher rates than males (2.3 per 10,000) of nonfatal injuries due to workplace violence resulting in days away from work. The same year, female workers accounted for 65% of the 37,210 nonfatal injuries due to workplace violence involving hitting, kicking, beating, or shoving that resulted in missed work. Male workers accounted for 82% of the 340 injuries involving an intentional shooting that resulted in days away from work.
Data Sources and Collections
This report uses data from five federal data collections—the National Crime Victimization Survey (sponsored by BJS), the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Occupational Supplement (sponsored by NIOSH and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission), the National Vital Statistics System (sponsored by the National Center for Health Statistics), the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (sponsored by BLS), and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses – Case and Demographics (conducted by BLS). Due to different data sources, estimates in this report could not always be presented consistently and are not always comparable.
Conclusion and Discussion
Workplace violence continues to negatively affect workers, organizations, and communities. This report provides a multi-faceted snapshot of the issue and establishes reliable indicators. Regular updating and monitoring of data on the topic remains critical in guiding law enforcement, researchers, policymakers, and occupational safety specialists in understanding the extent, nature, and context of violence in the workplace that will enable them to effectively address this problem.
Amid the ever-changing landscape of what work looks like, additional indicators may prove helpful in understanding how workplace violence continues to manifest. What additional data are needed to better understand and monitor the occurrence of workplace violence? Moreover, what effects did the COVID-19 pandemic have on workplace violence across the country? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Erika Harrell of the Bureau of Justice Statistics
Jeremy Petosa and Nicole Dangermond of the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Susan Derk, Dan Hartley and Audrey Reichard of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision making.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a research institute focused on the study of worker safety and health, and empowering employers and workers to create safe and healthy workplaces.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the principal federal agency responsible for collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable statistics on crime and criminal justice in the United States.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law.