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Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies

Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Division of Safety Research

July 1996

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
    Each week in the United States, an average of 20 workers are murdered and 18,000 are assaulted while at work. These staggering figures should not be an accepted cost of doing business in our society—nor should death or injury be an inevitable result of one's chosen occupation.

  • Abstract
    Violence is a substantial contributor to occupational injury and death, and homicide has become the second leading cause of occupational injury death.

  • Acknowledgments
    This document was prepared by Lynn Jenkins of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

  • Public Health Summary
    An average of 20 workers are murdered each week in the United States. The majority of these murders are robbery-related crimes. In addition, an estimated 1 million workers are assaulted annually in U.S. workplaces. Most of these assaults occur in service settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and social service agencies.

    • Introduction
      Death or injury should not be an inevitable result of one's chosen occupation, nor should these staggering figures be accepted as a cost of doing business in our society.

    • Purpose and Scope
      The circumstances of workplace violence also vary and may include robbery-associated violence; violence by disgruntled clients, customers, patients, inmates, etc.; violence by coworkers, employees, or employers; and domestic violence that finds its way into the workplace.

    • Homicide in the Workplace
      Homicide rates for taxicab drivers and security guards were one and a half times higher during the early 1990s than they had been during 1983–89.

    • Nonfatal Assaults in the Workplace
      Nearly half (47%) of the workplace assaults were described as incidents involving hitting, kicking, or beating; there were also cases of squeezing, pinching, scratching, biting, stabbing, and shooting, as well as rapes and threats of violence

    • Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies
      Numerous security devices may reduce the risk for assaults against workers and facilitate the identification and apprehension of perpetrators. These include closed-circuit cameras, alarms, two-way mirrors, card-key access systems, panic-bar doors locked from the outside only, and trouble lights or geographic locating devices in taxicabs and other mobile workplaces.

    • Developing and Implementing a Workplace Violence Prevention Program and Policy
      Much discussion has also centered around the role of stress in workplace violence. The most important thing to remember is that stress can be both a cause and an effect of workplace violence.

    • Current Efforts and Future Directions: Research and Prevention
      The murder of an average of 20 workers each week is unacceptable and should not be considered the cost of doing business in our society.

  • References Cited
    References Cited include Violence and theft in the workplace, Violence in the workplace comes under closer scrutiny, Workplace homicides in 1992, Nonfatal violence in the workplace: directions for future research, Industries and occupations at high risk for work-related homicide

  • Related Reading
    Titles include Hidden violence against women at work, The sexual assault of women at work, Female homicides in United States workplaces, Study of assaults on staff in Washington State Psychiatric Hospitals, Staff injuries from inpatient violence


Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

This document is in the public domain and may be freely copied or reprinted.

Copies of this and other NIOSH documents are available from:

Publications Dissemination, EID
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45226-1998

FAX (513) 533-8573
Telephone number: 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674)

To receive other information about occupational safety and health
problems, call 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674), or visit the NIOSH Home Page
on the World Wide Web at

DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-100


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Security Strategies
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