Latest Workplace Violence Statistics Reveal Importance of Background Checking

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Workplace violence and employment background checks

More than 572,000 nonfatal violent crimes — rape, robbery, or assault — occurred against individuals age 16 or older while at work in 2009, according to the Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) newly released publication, Workplace Violence, 1993-2009.

The total number represents an overall decline in workplace violence in that time, likely attributable to the effectiveness of violence prevention policies and programs such as background checking. The downward trend in workplace violence highlights the importance of continuing these security measures and maintaining an effective background checking program.

Approximately one-fifth of workplace violence from 2005-2009 consisted of serious violent crime, while assault accounted for almost 80 percent of workplace violence against employed individuals.

Among homicides in the workplace between 2005 and 2009, individuals employed in sales or office occupations accounted for a third of the victims. Shootings accounted for approximately 80 percent of all workplace homicides.

From 2005-2009, 38 percent of workplace homicide offenders were robbers and 32 percent were other assailants. Work associates — including current and former co-workers, customers and clients — accounted for approximately 21 percent of workplace homicide offenders. Spouses, relatives and other personal acquaintances accounted for about eight percent of assailants.

These findings indicate the need for organizations to be vigilant and continue improving workplace violence prevention programs to reduce the risk of incidents. The key to developing a safe, secure workplace isn’t reactive zero-tolerance policies, but proactively creating a security-conscious environment and corporate culture.

Fostering an engaged, ethical workforce with clear guidelines for identifying and handling potential threats is critical to avoiding workplace violence. For example, organizations should proactively address any warning signs or co-worker comments or complaints to the appropriate department. Security professionals should also be involved in exit interviews to influence questions that identify any potential issues or individuals.

A background screening program is a critical step for reducing the risk of workplace violence incidents and helping organizations develop a security-conscious environment. New comprehensive criminal records databases and criminal records repositories from a wide range of local, state and federal sources enable cost-effective national criminal records searches for organizations, improving employers’ ability to screen for violent and criminal activity in a candidate’s background.

HireRight’s new Widescreen Plus national criminal records search offers among the industry’s most comprehensive national criminal history checks. Effective background screening helps ensure a secure workplace by promoting high-quality hiring and providing employees with assurance that their safety and security is a high priority for the organization.

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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