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Non-Fatal Workplace Violence: An Epidemiological Report and Empirical Exploration of Risk Factors

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2001
141 pages
This dissertation investigated nonfatal workplace violence from a cue-criterion perspective in order to develop practical information for those who provide threat assessment for the workplace (e.g., mental health professionals and employee assistance programs).
This report first presents epidemiological information on nonfatal workplace violence, and then it addresses the various types of workplace violence and differences across these types. Lastly, it provides multivariate analyses of risk factors associated with higher and lower intensity violence before discussing a few pragmatic applications of the study's findings. For the purpose of this study, "workplace" violence is defined as "any behavior by an individual that is intended to harm workers of an organization, including all instances of physical and verbal aggression and violence: ranging from verbal acts such as harassment and threats, to physical acts such as sabotage, stalking, assault, and homicide; be it aimed at a victim directly, a third party, or a material object." The study investigated workplace violence in a metropolitan Midwestern city over an 18-month period (January 1, 1996 through June 30, 1997). The identification of workplace violence incidents was achieved by targeting all combinations of police contacts and location (businesses) codes that satisfied the definition of workplace violence. A total of 254 nonfatal workplace-violence incidents were coded. Variables pertained to epidemiological characteristics, type of aggression, motives, risk enhancing and assaultive behavior characteristics, the epidemiology of perpetrator and victim demographic characteristics, and differences among types of workplace violence. The study found that local-level workplace violence mirrors several national characteristics. The majority of nonfatal workplace-violence incidents occurred in non-retail settings, with the least number occurring in government-related facilities. The types of aggression found also paralleled national and international findings. Verbal aggression constituted the majority of incidents. Motives for nonfatal violence were often expressive of perceived mistreatment, but also were indicative of a money dispute or domestic issues of employees. Approximately half of the assailants were strangers to the employee victims. The findings suggest that routine face-to-face contact with large numbers of people and the handling of money increased the risk for workplace victimization. The gender of the perpetrator and the perpetrator's motive for the offense played a significant role in the intensity of violence that occurred. Managing risk, in addition to initially assessing it, is addressed in the suggestions for future research, such as workplace education, seminars, hotlines, and written safe-workplace policies. The improvement of risk communication is advised by this study to be the development of a four-tier, nonfatal workplace-violence identification system that is described in this report. 14 tables and 194 references

Date Published: March 1, 2001