Recent news of a census worker attacked while performing his duty raise questions about workplace violence. Do these workplace violence statistics point to politically motivated attacks or are they normal outcroppings of human interactions and a change in workplace definition?
113 Attacks on Census Takers in One Month
Workplace violence is usually associated with office drama, verbal abuse or perhaps even after-hours parking lot brawls. There are the times when ex-lovers hold a grudge or opportunists try to capitalize on positions of trust within a company for personal gain. When the workplace is the consumer’s doorstep, violence in the workplace becomes synonymous with attacks on workers in the field.
The news that there was a census worker attacked may not be featuring front and center in current labor statistics, but the fact – as outlined by the Washington Post – that 113 such attacks on census takers took place this month alone is troublesome. According to the Census Bureau workplace violence statistics, in addition to these attacks, thus far 29 census takers have been threatened with guns, four were robbed, three were detained against their wills and seven died as a result of car accidents.
2,863 Mail Carriers Attacked by Dogs in 2009
Another employee whose workplace is the front door, front yard, driveway or staircase of the consumer’s home is the mail carrier. Postal workers and dogs have an uneasy relationship and Yuba Net explains that in 2009 some 2,863 mail carriers were attacked by dogs while carrying out their duties. Much like the census worker attacked, the postal worker does not have a choice but must come to the mailbox and interact with anyone – or anything – on the premises.
Workplace Violence Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that in 2007 and 2008 about 16 percent of fatal occupational injuries were caused by workplace violence. Of these, 10 percent are due to homicides. While it is tempting to think of only an office or factory floor as a workplace, the fact that more and more Americans now routinely seek out clients and customers in their homes shows that the workplace definition is shifting.
With respect to the census workers who were attacked, wagging tongues suggest that the political far-right is to blame for incendiary rhetoric that has riled up some residents. Mail carriers already know that most dog owners believe their pets to be the one exception to the rule that proclaims any dog able to bite. As the workplace shifts away from merely being defined by the four walls of a company’s property, it is essential that workers and businesses define new methods for staying safe and protected against attacks.