The 3rd Leading Cause of Occupational Fatality

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April 2, 2024
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Patrick J. Karol,

According to OSHA, acts of violence and other injuries are currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. It seems to be on the rise, particularly post-pandemic. It’s difficult to read the news and not come across some form of violence. As a result, organizations are looking to the safety profession for guidance.

If you are a safety professional with aspirations of attaining a certification, workplace violence is also a topic on the ASP Blueprint, Domain 5, Emergency Response Management. You can count on multiple questions on the exam related to workplace violence, particularly risk factors. Workplace violence is not traditionally a safety professional’s domain, so what do we need to know?

For starters, OSHA defines workplace violence “as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers, and visitors.” Acts of violence and other injuries are currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. The number of workplace violence incidents and victims is difficult to track since many cases go unreported. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 5,333 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2019, 761 were cases of intentional injury by another person.

According to OSHA, factors that increase the risk of violence include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile, unstable people. Working alone or in isolated areas, working where alcohol is served may also contribute to the potential for violence. Additionally, time of day and location of work, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates, are also risk factors. Among those with higher risk are workers who exchange money with the public, delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel, and those who work alone or in small groups.

Establishing a zero-tolerance policy is one of the best protections employers can offer their workers. This policy should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel. Assessing our worksites for these risk factors and developing a written and implemented workplace violence prevention program, combined with engineering controls, administrative controls, and training, can reduce workplace violence.

Do you need the latest exam prep material? Under the Exam Materials tab, you can find our exam prep guidebooks and practice tests for the ASP, CSP, and CHST.