Homicide is the leading cause of death in the workplace for female employees. It was the third largest cause of deaths among all workers in the last decade according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (N.I.O.S.H.). An estimated 8% of all rapes, 7% of all robberies, and 16% of all assaults occur at work.
Although no federal job-safety regulations exist for workplace homicides, employers have a general responsibility to protect workers, according to N.I.O.S.H. More significantly, the courts are holding employers responsible for providing reasonable crime prevention measures in the workplace.
The businesses that are at the highest risk for violent crime are in the retail and service industries. In the retail industry, liquor stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and gasoline stations are especially at risk. In the service industry, high risk jobs involve hotels, motels, real estate offices, private security services, eating and drinking establishments, and transportation services. Taxicab drivers have the greatest risk for being killed while on the job.
According to a study published by the National Safety Council, 66% of these violent crimes occurred between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Another study in Texas found that nearly half of the work-related murders involved robbery. Without adequate security measures, working alone in a retail or services business, which involves the exchange of money, presents an unreasonable risk for violent crime.
Businesses which answer “yes” to one or more of these questions should review their workplace security measures:
- Do employees work alone or in small numbers?
- Do employees handle cash transactions with the public?
- Do employees work late-night hours?
- Do employees guard property?
- Do employees work in high-crime areas?
N.I.O.S.H. recently published a series of safe work practices that can help reduce the risk to employees:
Ensure that workplaces have good external and internal lighting.
- Use drop safes to reduce ready cash.
- Post signs that say “limited cash on hand.”
- Provide training on conflict resolution and nonviolent response.
- Teach employees to avoid resisting robbery.
- Close during high-risk hours.
- Increase staffing.
Install silent alarms and protective barriers.