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CDC researchers suggest tailoring workplace violence prevention programs to specific worker groups

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Atlanta — Workplace violence prevention programs can be enhanced by implementing approaches that are specific to certain worker groups, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests, citing evidence showing the prevalence, characteristics and outcomes of violent workplace crime vary by occupation and gender.

Using 2007-2015 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, researchers analyzed self-reported nonfatal crimes by victims at least 16 years old who were working or on duty at the time of the incident. Crimes were categorized into five mutually exclusive categories: rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault and verbal threat of assault.

The highest rate of nonfatal violent workplace crimes were among workers in protective services, at 101.4 per 1,000 workers – nearly 13 times greater than the overall rate, which was approximately eight per 1,000 workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, protective service occupations include correctional officers and jailers, bailiffs, firefighters and fire inspectors, detective and criminal investigators, animal control workers, and transportation security screeners.

The next highest rates were among workers in community and social services (19.1) and health care occupations (17.1 for practitioners and technical staff and 16.5 for support staff). Further, more crimes against women than men were reportedly committed by offenders known from the workplace (34% vs. 19%), while 58% of the crimes were not reported to police.

The most common crimes were threats of assault (43.9%), simple assault (36.7%) and aggravated assault (13.4%). The crimes were most likely committed by men (70.8%), were work-related (24.5%), did not involve a weapon (80.8%), and did not result in any injuries (86.5%) or lost work time (90.5%).


A recent NCVS analysis reported an overall crime rate of approximately four crimes per 1,000 workers in 2009, but the analysis did not include threats of assault, which OSHA categorizes as workplace violence and can lead to adverse physical and psychological health outcomes, the researchers noted.

The study was published in the March 27 issue of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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