Report: Most Workplace Homicides Happen During Robberies

By | January 25, 2012

What do robberies and healthcare patients have in common? Workplace violence.

While the numbers of workplace homicides and injury-causing assaults have fallen since the 1990s, homicides that do occur in the workplace primarily result from robberies and most assaults at work are committed by healthcare patients, according to a new report published by the National Council on Compensation Inc.

Authored by Tanya Restrepo and Harry Shuford, “Violence in the Workplace” indicates that, contrary to popular opinion, most homicides that occur at a workplace are not committed by a co-worker or a relative who’s gone “postal.” Instead they tend to occur during robberies.

Homicides account for 11 percent of all deaths in the workplace. The rate of homicides due to robberies and other criminal acts has fallen since the late 1990s largely due to a decrease in violent deaths of taxi drivers, but they still account for 69 percent of all workplace fatalities.

Acts of homicide by work associates, a category that includes customers, have increased, mostly due to a rise in violent acts committed by customers.

The most dangerous occupations in terms of homicide incidence rates in 2009 were service station attendants, barbers, taxi drivers, security guards and lodging managers, according to the report.

The rate of homicide incidents for taxi drivers and chauffeurs fell by more than 50 percent from 16.4 per 100,000 private sector workers in 2003 to 6.8 in 2009.

Assaults at Work

While workplace assaults account for only 2 percent of all workplace injuries, those that do occur commonly happen at a healthcare facility such as residential and long-term care facilities.

Most such assaults — 67 percent of them — are committed by healthcare patients. Coworkers commit just 7 percent of assaults in the workplace and about 23 percent of workplace assaults are committed by someone other than a healthcare patient or coworker.

The most dangerous healthcare facilities in terms of assaults on workers are psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, which had 75 assaults per 10,000 workers in 2009, other residential care facilities (including things such as group homes for children and youth) with 44.2, and residential mental retardation, mental health and substance abuse facilities with 38.5, according to the researchers.

Nursing care facilities and community care facilities for the elderly also have incidence rates for assaults by persons that are quite high at 15.7 and 13.1, respectively.

Workplace injuries that result from a crime tend to be more severe than injuries resulting from other causes and more likely to involve a fatality. In contrast, the severity of injuries that result from an assault by a coworker or patient is below average, according to the report.

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