WISHA: Workplace Violence Deaths Up Last Year

Thirteen on-the-job homicides and seven workplace suicides last year accounted for about one-third of the 62 total fatalities resulting from work-related injuries in 2009 in Washington State.

Six law enforcement officers were killed on the job in 2009 alone in Washington State, a grim statistic that contributed to an increase in workplace violence fatalities for the state, the Labor & Industries Department's Division of Occupational Safety and Health reported Jan. 29.

In all, there were 13 on-the-job homicides and seven workplace suicides last year, accounting for about one-third of the 62 total fatalities resulting from work-related injuries in 2009. "Although this is the highest number of workplace-violence-related deaths in more than a decade, it does not reflect an upward trend but, rather, a tragic year for law enforcement," the department's news release stated. Others who died in violent incidents on the job were clerks in retail businesses, a cabbie, a musician, and an armored car driver.

"While deaths involving criminal activity may seem particularly hard to avoid, certain measures can reduce the risk that employees will become victims of violence in the workplace," said Michael Silverstein, the division's assistant director. Employee training and improved lighting are among the steps employers should take, especially for jobs known to be high risk because they involve contact with the public, the exchange of money, working alone, and working late at night or very early in the morning, according to the department.

For help in developing a workplace violence prevention plan, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/WPV/.

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