July 23, 2020

Hazard Alert Highlights Workplace Violence Against Women in Kentucky

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) has released a hazard alert (PDF) on the danger of workplace violence to women workers. The alert stresses that workplace violence disproportionately affects women in the state. In 1998–2018, 22 percent of all workplace fatalities in Kentucky were homicides of women. Throughout the same period, homicides of men made up only 5 percent of all workplace fatalities. According to KIPRC, homicides are the second highest cause of workplace death for women, behind only motor vehicle accidents.

In one case, an office manager was sitting at her desk when her estranged former partner—against whom the victim had filed three separate restraining orders—entered the place of business and shot her in the chest and head. In another, a caregiver at a residential care facility attempted to break up a fight between two residents when one of them stabbed her with a kitchen knife.

The KIPRC alert included the following recommendations to prevent workplace violence: develop and implement a workplace violence prevention program, including a zero-tolerance policy; perform a work site analysis to determine an organization’s vulnerability to workplace violence; train employees to recognize potential signs of violence by a coworker; implement security measures at work sites; and conduct background screenings of new hires to eliminate those with histories of violence.

The alert recommends further resources, including “Workplace Violence” by OSHA, “Is Your Workplace Ready?” by the National Safety Council, and “Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The new hazard alert was developed in part by KIPRC’s NIOSH-funded Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program, which conducts surveillance of occupational injuries and illnesses in the state. KIPRC is a partnership between the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky's College of Public Health.

Related: An article published in the December 2018 issue of The Synergist discusses strategies for keeping work sites safe from workplace violence.