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FACEValue: Lone service technician dies after assault

NIOSH’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Reports
Date of incident: Fall 2009

A 53-year-old male service technician died at his repair shop after being assaulted by an intruder. The shop was the only occupant of a two-story building with a parking lot in the back, secured by a chain-link fence and padlock. The victim was working the third shift by himself, and was scheduled to be at the shop until midnight or later. At about 9:30 p.m., he left the shop from the back door to visit a nearby fast-food restaurant. About 15 minutes later, he returned and was assaulted from behind with a knife. The attacker cut the victim’s carotid artery and jugular vein on the left side of his neck before fleeing. The victim was able to call 911, but was dead by the time emergency medical services arrived on the scene.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Perform a workplace safety analysis and implement personal safety practices. An assessment of the workplace should be performed to identify hazards that may expose employees to violence. Engineering controls such as video surveillance, adequate lighting indoors and out, motion detectors, secure doors and locks, and controlling building access with a buzzer system should be considered. Signs that state employees have no access to money should be clearly visible. When working alone, employees should be sure to lock doors when leaving the premises and relock them upon return. Personal safety measures should be reviewed with employees, and a policy should be in place to allow workers to report instances where they feel unsafe or threatened at work.
  • A building maintenance assessment should be performed on a regular basis. An assessment to identify building safety issues should be conducted on a regular basis at each work location. Necessary repairs should be made in a timely manner. In this instance, speculation exists that the back door to the repair shop did not close properly. All doors and windows should be properly functioning with hardware and devices to prevent illegal entry.
  • Neighboring businesses should implement a Business Safety Watch. A Business Safety Watch is a collaborative effort of local businesses that join together to aid in crime prevention. They survey the local area, determine safety priorities, organize and implement patrols, receive crime prevention training, and work closely with law enforcement. Assistance in organizing a BSW can be obtained through local law enforcement.

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