When looking at workplace violence statistics in America, it’s clear that this is a serious problem. Each year, millions of Americans report cases of workplace violence, and many more go unreported. This is even graver when considering how many of these incidents involve workplace deaths and homicides. Between 2011 and 2018, 3,584 Americans died at the hands at another in their workplace.
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The Four Types of Workplace Violence
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath, there are four main types of workplace violence:
- Criminal Intent: This type of workplace violence involves an assailant who has no real relationship to the employees or the workplace. These perpetrators are often engaging in another illegal act, like robbery or trespassing, when the violent incident occurs.
- Customer/Client: The second classification of workplace violence includes individuals who have a client or customer relationship with the employer. These are most common in health-care settings, and assailants can include patients, students, and other clients.
- Worker-on-Worker: These types of incidents, commonly called horizontal or lateral violence, involve violence between coworkers. This can include former coworkers and work associates and usually comes after a series of hostile or contentious encounters.
- Personal Relationship: In this type of violent encounter, the assailant generally has no relationship to the business but rather has a personal relationship with the employee that has spilled into the workplace. These include spouses, domestic partners, and other relatives.
While it may seem more likely that a perpetrator of workplace homicide would be known to the victim, the true numbers tell a different story.
Who Is Committing Workplace Homicides?
Between 2011 and 2018, 30.9% of workplace homicides were committed by robbers, making them the most common type of workplace assailant. Adding in inmates, detainees, apprehended suspects, and other assailants with criminal intent, that number goes up to 52.9%. While the majority of workplace homicides are committed by unknown intruders and suspects, perpetrators known to the victims pose a serious threat as well. More than 33% of victims of workplace homicide were killed by people known to them. The most common known assailants are current and former coworkers, responsible for 14.8% of homicides in the workplace. It may be surprising to learn that spouses and domestic partners only make up about 5.7% of workplace homicide assailants.
Most Common Causes of Workplace Homicides
When it comes to workplace homicides in the U.S., more than 78% of them involve shootings. Between 2011 and 2018, 2,825 Americans were shot to death while on the job. While other types of deadly violence, like stabbings and beatings, are less common, they still affect hundreds of Americans each year. Vehicles have been involved in 75 workplace homicides since 2011, with passenger vehicles being the most common culprit. Cutting hand tools, like axes and scissors, were responsible for 299 homicides in the workplace in the same time period. While guns are the most common weapon used in these incidents, there are many other ways that assailants can harm workers on the job, too.
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