Workplace violence is now recognized as a specific category of violent crime that calls for distinct responses from employers, law enforcement, and the community.

This recognition is relatively recent. Prior to the Edmond shootings, the few research and preventive efforts that existed were focused on particular issues – patient assaults on healthcare workers and the high robbery and murder risks facing taxi drivers and late-night convenience store clerks.

However, contrary to popular opinion, sensational multiple homicides represent a very small number of workplace violence incidents. The majority of incidents that employees/managers have to deal with on a daily basis are lesser cases of assaults, domestic violence, stalking, threats, harassment (to include sexual harassment), and physical and/or emotional abuse that make no headlines.

Many of these incidents, in fact, are not even reported to company officials, let alone to police. Data on the exact extent of workplace violence are scattered and sketchy specialists acknowledged in a February 2001 report. A Justice Department report estimated that an average of 1.7 million “violent victimization,” 95 percent of them simple or aggravated assaults, occurred in the workplace each year from 1993 through 1999. Estimates of the costs, from

lost time and wages, reduced productivity, medical costs, workers’ compensation payments, and legal and security expenses, are even less exact, but clearly run into many billions of dollars.

Average annual number, rate, and percent of workplace

victimization by type of crime, 1993-99








PER 1000







All Violent Crime 1,744,300 12.5 100%
Homicide 900 0.01 2.1
Rape/Sexual Assault 36.500 0.3 2.1
Robbery 70,100 0.5 4.0
Aggravated Assault 325.000 2.3 18.6
Simple Assault 1,300,700 9.4 75.2


Sources: Homicide data are obtained from the

Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational

Injuries. Rape and sexual assault, robbery, aggravated

assault, and simple assault data are from the NCVS.