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Workplace homicides fastest rising cause of on-the-job deaths

February 25, 2005
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In 2003 workplace homicides increased faster than any other cause of a worker fatality, and females made up 81 percent of the total number of the 631 victims. The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) “Workplace Violence Survey and White Paper” urges employers to take action to reduce the incidence of homicide in their workplace.

Homicides were the third leading cause of on-the-job deaths, behind only transportation incidents (No. 1) and falls (No. 2). Of these three top causes of on-the-job deaths, homicide, with its 631 workplace fatalities, is the only one on the rise. Workplace suicides are also on the rise, with 218 recorded in 2003. The majority of homicides were due to shootings with 487, and 58 stabbings.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 512 females and 119 men were victims of workplace homicides.

Many companies and organizations across all industries have yet to properly address the problem of workplace violence, ASSE reports. Here are some tips from ASSE that employers should consider for preventing workplace violence:

  • Officers and directors: Establish a workplace violence prevention policy; upper management must promote a clear antiviolence corporate policy; establish and maintain security policies.

  • Human resource managers: Examine and improve hiring practices; implement prescreening techniques; utilize background checks; encourage employees to report threats or violent behavior; establish termination policies; provide post-termination counseling.

  • Risk management and EHS departments: Train all employees in the warning signs of aggressive or violent behavior; train management in threat assessment and de-escalation techniques; conduct a formal workplace violence risk assessment; increase security as needed; develop and communicate a contingency plan to all employees that includes crisis management and media relations; review insurance coverage and verify coverage and exclusions; identify a defensive strategy.
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