Workplace Homicides Drop Steadily Since Mid-'90s

NU Online News Service, Jan. 24, 3:30 p.m. EST

Although workplace violence is viewed as crimes committed by disgruntled coworkers and spouses, the reality is that homicides in the workplace resulting from robberies to the business are more common, but well below levels shown in the mid-1990s, according to a study by NCCI.

In its new report, “Violence in the Workplace,” NCCI says that homicides account for 11 percent of workplace fatalities in private industry. Nonfatal assaults make up less than 2 percent of total nonfatal lost work-time (LWT) injuries and illnesses, but that share has been increasing.

From 1993 to 2009, the rate of workplace homicides fell 59 percent, while the overall rate of homicides fell 47 percent. However, the decline has slowed for both since 2000. From 2000 to 2009, workplace homicide rates fell 21 percent while homicide rates overall fell only 9 percent, according to NCCI.

The decline is due largely to a drop in the homicide-incidence rate for taxi drivers. Work-related homicide rates for these workers are now comparable to those for high-risk retail workers such as service-station attendants and barbers.

But while homicides due to robberies and similar criminal acts have fallen, they still make up 69 percent of all homicides in the workplace, the report shows.

By contrast, homicides committed by work associates—a Bureau of Labor Statistics category made up of both coworkers and customers—have increased to about 21 percent. This reflects an increase of violent acts by customers to 9 percent.

The share of workplace homicides by coworkers has remained steady at about 12 percent—with the actual number of such homicides in the range of 50-60 in recent years.

Men and older workers have a disproportionately high share of workplace homicides since they are more likely to be employed in the occupations at highest risk of homicides, according to the report.

NCCI says that since the mid-1990s, workplace fatalities not resulting from homicide have fallen from 4,693 to 3,628, or by just over a fifth. However, virtually this entire decline occurred during the most recent recession from 2007 to 2009 with all non-assault-related categories showing large declines during those years.

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