Violence in the workplace has been on the rise in recent years and is now recognized as a burning issue across several industries. The thing is: just a single case of violence can seriously affect the victim, their co-workers, and employer.
It doesn’t help that the topic is often saturated with myths and false information. Because of that, many victims might feel ashamed and opt-out of reporting the violence. Now more than ever, it’s essential to get familiar with recent facts and stats to raise awareness of the issue. These workplace violence statistics will get you in the loop, so dive right in.
Worrying Stats on Workplace Violence (Editor’s Choice)
- 1.5 million assaults happen in the workplace each year.
- Assaults at work are the second leading cause of death in the workplace.
- Bullying is officially recognized as workplace violence.
- Violent incidents cost business organizations up to $130 billion per year.
- 28% of sexual violence cases happen in accommodation, food, and retail industries.
- 80% of emergency physicians say workplace violence impacts the quality of care.
General Statistics on Workplace Violence
The workforce has never been as large as it is today. Naturally, any issue occurring periodically in the workplace has complex layers to be peeled off. Let’s check the basics first.
1. About 2 million people become victims of workplace violence every year.
In spite of a tremendous increase in violent incidents, the number of cases has been rising at a somewhat slower rate in recent years. Still, it is now estimated that about 2 million people report one or more events of workplace violence every year.
Make no mistake: this number doesn’t present a conclusive list of workplace violence incidents, but only represents violent cases which were officially reported. The actual number of cases is likely much higher.
2. About 25% of workplace violence incidents go unreported.
A disheartening portion of victims chooses to opt-out of reporting the violent incidents. Some don’t trust the organization to handle the event properly, some are afraid of the event occurring again and some simply fear losing their job.
Unreported incidents can’t be included in official stats on workplace violence which makes combat against workplace violence that much harder. Without the full picture, many victims may remain unprotected and at future risk.
3. One in seven employees feels unsafe at work.
In some industries, the threat of experiencing violence is so prevalent that it makes it a part of everyday life at work. It is no wonder that one in seven employees reports feeling unsafe at their place of work.
As studies have shown, stress about workplace violence can have a significantly negative effect on a person's mental well-being and job productivity.
4. 75% of acts of workplace violence cases are classified as assaults.
Assaults are the most common type of violence happening in the workplace. Annually, about 1.5 million assaults occur, which makes up 75% of the total reported events. Among other types of workplace violence, next on the list are aggravated assaults, rapes and sexual assaults, robberies, with homicides in the last place.
We’re often quick to conclude that these events usually involve co-workers. But, in fact, assaults are most common in the customer-client relation of the offender and the victim. In situations like these, the attacker has criminal intent or a personal relationship with the victim.
5. Most victims of recent workplace violence incidents are aged between 25 and 54.
Based on statistics from OSHA, it’s clear that employees aged 25 to 54 years most often become victims of workplace violence. 67% of victims who experienced some kind of trauma caused by another person were in this age group. Also, 64% of victims who died due to a violent incident were also aged 25 to 54.
6. 7% of fatal assaults involved acts of hitting, kicking, beating and/or shoving.
If you haven’t experienced or witnessed any workplace violence events, it’s entirely reasonable to wonder what the actual physical act of an assault looks like. Well, according to the OSHA workplace violence statistics 2018, 7% of them are physical acts of violence which ultimately caused death.
Surprisingly, only 2% of the total number of reported assaults were purely verbal.
Workplace Violence Examples, Injuries and Fatalities
So far, you’ve learned that the range of workplace violence goes from a verbal threat to a full-blown and often fatal assault. Both of these are serious examples, but different types of violence are preceded and followed by different types of context. Keep on reading for more details and violence in the workplace statistics.
7. 62% of active shooters in the workplace were dealing with mental health issues.
In recent years, workplace violence has gone beyond intimidation and threats and now often includes firearms. One research study showed that mental health was the biggest stressor for active shooters who opened fire in the workplace: 62% of them were dealing with mental health issues.
Gun violence is even more disturbing when you take into account other current facts on gun violence, which suggests that the problem is only going to become more significant in the future.
8. There were 453 fatal violent cases in 2018.
Statistics on workplace violence show that some of the cases can actually be fatal for victims. In fact, assaults at work are the second leading cause of workplace deaths.
In 2018, there were 453 deaths caused by intentionally made injuries by another person. Keep in mind that the total number of deaths in the workplace is the sum-up of all industries, including those operating with heavy machinery and various hazardous workplaces.
9. In most cases, victims have no previous relationship with the offender.
For many, the first association with workplace violence is violent behavior between co-workers. Well, the state of things is quite different when you take a look at workplace violence stats. In 53% of the instances where men were victims and 41% od cases with female victims, offenders are complete strangers, coming from an environment outside of the workplace. Most often, these are customers and clients in the service industry.
10. 35% of injuries caused by workplace violence involve injuries to the head.
When broken down by the part of the body most affected in workplace violence, 35% of injuries involve some head injuries. Other body parts are also affected — 21% of assaults involve upper extremities, 14% include injuries to the trunk and 7% of injuries include lower extremities.
11. 94% of employees have been affected by bullying in the workplace.
No matter how subtle, bullying can create serious issues for employees. Since 1998, experts claim bullying should be treated as seriously as other examples of workplace violence incidents. And they were right: the latest national survey from 2019 shows that 94% of employees were, at some point, bullied in their workplace.
12. Women make up for 85% of total victims of domestic violence occurring in the workplace.
When it comes to homicide, the offender is most likely to come outside of the workplace. In these cases, men are most likely to be victims of assailants. But, it’s quite different for women, as they are usually attacked by a domestic partner or a relative with a previous record of violent behavior. In fact, 85% of all victims are women, according to domestic violence in the workplace statistics.
Cases of Workplace Violence Affect Employers and their Business
Statistics on their own rarely carry meaning without context. Let’s check some of the contexts and consequences of workplace violence.
13. The number of incidents in the public sector is at least twice as high as in the private sector.
Despite the increasing violence in retail and sales, and other service industries, incidents of violence are still twice as high in the public sector. Keep on reading, we’re bringing you more stats on workplace violence regarding private industry down below.
14. An event of violence will result in 8 sick days per employee, on average.
Days away contribute to the total costs of running a business, and can even cause significant major logistical gaps in work organization. So, any recent workplace violence incident will result in 8 sick days for the employee targeted by violence, which will cause organizational problems and costs for the employer. Since the number of cases increases each year, some insurance experts expect that these costs will only rise in the future.
15. An average number of days away from work caused by violent incidents in education has doubled since 2008.
The analysis for the period between 2008 and 2017 has shown an alarming increase in days workers in education take away from work after a violent incident. Statistics on workplace violence in education show an increase in violent incidents. A 116% increase has been reported in private schools, 117% in local authority schools, and an incredible 233% in state-managed schools.
16. Workplace productivity can decrease up to 50% in the aftermath of a violent event.
The ripple effect from an act of violence is felt in the entire business organization long after the event is over. Reports have shown that workplace productivity can decrease by up to 50% and can last from 6 to 18 weeks.
17. The annual cost of all types of workplace violence is around $130 billion.
Direct costs for businesses usually involve legal fees and hospital bills, but it’s the indirect costs making it hard for companies to recover. Lower productivity, negative publicity, and low morale have a huge impact on business.
When looking at workplace violence statistics by year, the rise in the cost is evident. Compared to the current $130 billion, the annual cost for businesses was $36 billion in 1995. Currently, some insurance companies estimate that at least $3 is saved for every dollar invested in workplace violence prevention.
Workplace Violence Statistics by Industry
Some industries are much more susceptible to workplace violence than others. Stats by industry point to great differences based on the type of work employees are doing. Employees in healthcare, service-providing, and education can be several times more prone to be victims than others. So let’s break them down by numbers.
18. Taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered on the job.
Even though taxi drivers are not a specific industry, their occupation is among the most dangerous. According to OSHA workplace violence statistics, taxi drivers are the most common victims of homicide in the workplace.
Unfortunately, it seems to go hand in hand with the characteristics of the job: working in the night time, driving in the high-crime areas, and handling substantial amounts of cash all make taxi drivers prime targets.
19. More than 28% of workplace sexual harassment happens in service-providing industries.
For more than 10 years, workplace violence statistics continually showed that most assaults happen in the healthcare industry. But when it comes to cases of sexual harassment, service-providing industries taking the unfortunate lead. 98% of all cases happen in the service industry, especially in food, accommodation, and retail industries.
20. 80% of victims of sexual violence in the workplace are female.
Perhaps you expected this one, but it’s worth looking at it closely. Service-providing industries predominantly employ women and make up for more than 18% of the total workforce. Since women are the most common victims of sexual violence in the work setting (80% of victims are female), it almost goes without saying that sexual violence is now a serious issue in this industry.
This stat only goes on top of many other alarming statistics regarding sexual assault.
21. 80% of teachers report they’ve been victims of violence in the last 12 months.
National workplace violence statistics point to education as one of the industries with the most recent increase in violence cases.
One of the recent surveys reports that 80% of teachers have reported they have been victims of violence in schools in the past 12 months, with 94% of them victimized by students. It’s also highly worrying that 50% of teachers reported their property has been damaged or stolen in violent incidents caused by students.
22. Most injuries caused by workplace violence happen in the healthcare industry.
Even though the majority of assaults happen in the service providing industry, reported injuries caused by violence in healthcare organizations are almost equal to the number of injuries in all of the other industries combined.
In other words, when a violent incident happens in the healthcare facility, it’s usually a serious one causing substantial harm.
Healthcare Workplace Violence Statistics
Because of the serious ripple effect caused by violence in this industry, let’s take a closer look at some of the workplace violence statistics in healthcare.
23. 47% of emergency physicians report they have been assaulted at work.
Nearly half of emergency physicians and nurses have been assaulted at some point, workplace violence statistics for 2018 indicate. More than half of them (60%) said they’d been assaulted in the past year.
Healthcare providers often have to deal with patients who have a criminal record or a history of violent behavior. And, when put in an already stressful setting of medical care, many offenders easily break down and cause harm.
Events like that are not like other workplace violent incidents; it takes more time for everybody to recover.
24. 80% of emergency physicians say incidents of violence impact the quality of patient care.
Workplace violence cases in healthcare can also affect patients, leaving them injured or traumatized. In most cases, these incidents probably cause an increase in wait times while the medical staff is distracted and not focusing on providing adequate patient care.
This is what makes healthcare the most delicate industry when dealing with workplace violence — there are already hurt people involved even before the incident takes place.
25. 49% of physicians claim their hospitals can do more to prevent violent incidents.
Looking at workplace violence statistics in healthcare, it’s no wonder that nearly half of physicians are dissatisfied with existing conditions in preventing workplace violence. Many of them ask for more initiative from hospitals and their health organizations suggesting adding more security cameras, visitor screening, and introducing metal detectors.
26. Hospitals pressed charges in only 3% of cases.
In 70% of cases, hospitals and other health organizations responded to workplace violence. Still, only in 3% of all cases, were charges officially filed.
Even though some physicians blame hospital administration and their disinterest, it’s worth noting that nearly half of offenders in healthcare workplace violence are people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, pursuing legal action in these cases can sometimes only do more harm.
Gender, Race and Geography in Workplace Violence Statistics
No matter how much we try to minimize the negative consequences of our differences, statistics will inevitably group people. When it comes to recent workplace violence statistics, the groups play an important role.
27. 9.04% of workplace assaults in Texas ended fatally.
At first, most people would easily conclude that states with large populations like New York and California deal with the largest number of workplace violence events. Still, this is not entirely true.
When it comes to stats on workplace violence by state, the most dangerous one seems to be Texas, with 488 fatal injuries in 2018 — a surprising 8.61% decrease compared to the previous year. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics on workplace violence, the second most dangerous is Michigan with 5.04% of fatal cases.
28. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for women due to violent events in the workplace.
A staggering 9% of workers lose their life due to homicide in the workplace. Women are an overwhelming majority of victims here, with 19% of women being murdered in their workplace. In comparison, homicide is the cause of death for 8% of men, making it the fifth cause of death in total.
29. White workers are the most common victims of violence.
Perhaps surprisingly, white workers are predominantly more represented as victims in the national workplace violence statistics. In fact, 78% of victims are white, while African-American victims make up 9% and Hispanic victims 8% of the overall count.
That said, it’s important to note that several studies showed minorities are less likely to report violence in their place of work due to shame and fear of losing their job.
To Sum Things Up
People spend up to a third of their life working with or for people of various backgrounds. Inevitably, we all have to endure stress in the workplace.
Still, workplace violence isn’t and definitely shouldn’t be just another “part of the job”.
As these workplace violence statistics show, violent incidents should be taken seriously, especially considering that the number of cases is continuously on the rise.
Why does it matter so much to be aware of violence when it comes to our workplaces? As always, the first step forward change comes from a high awareness of the issue.