How Violence at Work is Defined


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According to the Workplace Violence Research Institute, workplace violence has two definitions. The first, the Institute claims, is one perpetrated by the media in which a disgruntled customer or employee takes a firearm to a place of work and shoots indiscriminately. Although an exaggerated example, this definition may explain why many employees and employers feel violence at work only occurs when an injury is sustained due to a physical attack.

The second definition is one more closely aligned to that provided by OSHA. The Administration’s website states: “Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.” According to the latest workplace violence statistics relating to fatal injuries, workplace homicides increased by 83 cases to over 500 in 2018.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16,890 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2016. These incidents required days away from work.

Of those victims who experienced trauma from workplace violence:

  • 70% were female
  • 67% were aged 25 to 54
  • 70% worked in the healthcare and social assistance industry
  • 21% required 31 or more days away from work to recover, and 19% involved 3 to 5 days away from work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 500 U.S. workers were workplace homicide victims in 2016.2

Of those victims who died from workplace violence:

  • 82% were male
  • 48% were white
  • 69% were aged 25 to 54
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