By JOSHUA CLIFTON,
editor of the LRP newsletter Workers Compensation Report, where this story first appeared
According to the NCCI report, significant gains are being made in reducing workplace violence--both homicides and assaults. Specifically, researchers said workplace homicide rates are trending decidedly lower, down 25 percent between 2000 and 2006, and down 61 percent since 1992.
In contrast, homicides rates for the nation as a whole (per 100,000 inhabitants) have actually edged higher since 2000--increasing roughly 4 percent.
The report is the fourth in a series of NCCI studies on workplace violence. Researchers said it provides updated data and analyses based on the latest available information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on workplace homicides and assaults, and from NCCI on the characteristics of claims associated with workplace violence.
Workplace violence can happen at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, which is one of the leading causes of job-related deaths.
Every day, an estimated 16,400 threats are made in the workplace, 723 workers are attacked and 43,800 employees are harassed. According to the report, workplace homicides accounted for 8.7 percent of private sector workplace fatalities in 2006.
Among the key findings of the report, researchers said:
--Workplace assaults rates have been more volatile on a year-to year basis. The rate of workplace assaults declined 20 percent in 2005--the largest drop since 1998--before increasing by 6 percent in 2006.
Nationally, the study found that assault rates (in term of aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants) have shown a more consistent downward pattern. Researchers said that over the full 1992?2006 study period, both measures have declined by roughly similar percentages--41 percent for the workplace assault rate and 35 percent for the national aggravated assault rate.
--Robberies continue to be the major cause of workplace homicides. According to the report, robberies accounted for roughly 70 percent of such deaths. Researchers said the latest data is consistent with prior results that showed that the primary victims of workplace homicides are in occupations where there is direct customer contact and where cash or other valuables are accessible--such as sales (cash register operators), security guards and taxi drivers.
Researchers said that not surprisingly, in light of the large share of homicides among retail sales-related occupations, retail trade accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of the total private sector homicides--31 percent versus the 13 percent share of private employment.
According to the study, most of the homicides in the retail trade sector occurred in food and beverage stores and gasoline service stations. The leisure and hospitality sector--mainly food service and drinking places--accounted for 25 percent of homicides versus a 12 percent employment share.
Work associates accounted for 22 percent of homicides, split about evenly between coworkers/former co-workers and customers/clients. Researchers said actions by other personal acquaintances (including current and past significant others) and relatives (mainly spouses) made up the balance. Shootings were involved in 80 percent of workplace homicides.
--Workplace assaults continue to concentrated in health services, social assistance and personal care occupations. Workers in nursing homes are major victims of assaults, with roughly 50 percent of incidents in the healthcare industry occurring in such facilities.
--Nonfatal crime-related workers' compensation claims, on average, involve more serious injuries. According to NCCI statistics, these claims resulted in more serious conditions to the head and central nervous system than did non-crime claims--where back strains and sprains are more prevalent.
--Crime-related claims had higher indemnity and medical severity. In part because of the more serious nature of their injuries, researchers said crime-related claims had a higher indemnity and medical severity (cost per claim) than other claims--when claims are classified by cause of injury. As in previous studies, NCCI said traffic accidents continue to have the highest severity.
According to the report, the average indemnity payment per lost-time claim associated with workplace violence was higher than average for claims. Indemnity payments associated with criminal-act claims averaged $11,381 per claim, compared to $9,182 for the average of all claims and $7,029 for claims involving being struck by fellow worker or patient.
Medical payment for crime-related claims--$13,882 per claim (calculated on the same basis as indemnity severity)--was the third-highest claim category behind motor vehicle accidents and burns. Researchers said the average medical payment per claim for all claims was $11,417 during 2003 through 2005.
In contrast, the average medical payment per claim for claims involving being struck by fellow worker or patient was $9,080. As with indemnity severity, researchers said body part differences provide a reasonable explanation for the differences in medical severity--with crime-related claims having a far greater portion of injuries that are likely to entail substantial medical treatment.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance offered employers strategies to reduce the likelihood of workplace violence. Specifically, researchers said employers should:
--Focus on environmental designs. These changes should reduce cash handling, increase physical separation (through bullet-proof barriers), improve lighting, and make use of silent alarms and surveillance cameras and, where appropriate, body armor.
--Implement administrative controls. These control measures include increasing the number of staff on duty, reviewing cash handling procedures, improving policies for reporting threats, increasing education and training in dealing with workplace violence and improving medical support after an incident has occurred
--Examine behavioral strategies. These strategies should be aimed at improving both conflict resolution and awareness of the risks of workplace violence.
For more information, visit the NCCI Web site.
October 15, 2008
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