Workplace violence research
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Workplace violence research

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    In the 1980’s a series of shootings at post offices drew public attention towards the issue of workplace violence. While mass shootings receive a lot of media attention, they actually account for a small number of workplace violence events. NIOSH has been studying workplace violence since the 1980s. In 1993, NIOSH released the document Preventing Homicide in the Workplace. This was the first NIOSH publication to identify high-risk occupations and workplaces. The research revealed that taxicab establishments had the highest rate of workplace homicide–nearly 40 times the national average and more than three times the rate of liquor stores which had the next highest rate. NIOSH worked to further inform workers and employers about the risk and encourage steps to prevent homicide in the workplace in the 1996 document Violence in the Workplace which reviewed what was known about fatal and nonfatal workplace violence to focus needed research and prevention strategies. The document addressed workplace violence in various settings such as offices, factories, warehouses, hospitals, convenience stores, and taxicabs, and identified risk factors and prevention strategies.

    Workplace violence is the act or threat of violence, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assaults directed toward persons at work or on duty. The impact of workplace violence can range from psychological issues to physical injury, or even death. Violence can occur in any workplace and among any type of worker, but the risk for fatal violence is greater for workers in sales, protective services, and transportation, while the risk for nonfatal violence resulting in days away from work is greatest for healthcare and social assistance workers.

    There continues to be groups of workers who are disproportionately affected by workplace violence. In 2013, NIOSH researchers contributed to a publication focused on health disparities and inequalities. [i] Number and rates of homicide deaths over a 5-year span for industry and occupation groups were presented by race/ethnicity and nativity. Further analyses published in 2014 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine controlling for other factors reported elevated homicide rate ratios for workers who are Black, American Indian, Alaska Natives, Asian, or Pacific Islanders, and those who were born outside of the United States.[ii] NIOSH researchers continue to work towards identifying disparities where they exist so we can better focus our research and translation efforts to the workforces and communities of workers that need them. See below for examples of research conducted by NIOSH on identifying disparities in specific workforces.

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