Workplace Violence

Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) — Research for Safe Work

Workplace violence research by the SHARP program

Public health importance of violence in the workplace

Workplace violence is gathering increasing attention from both the media and public health community.

From 2000 to 2005, homicide accounted for 7% of all deaths in Washington workplaces. For the same time period, there were 2,094 claims filed annually for work-related violence or an average of 12 claims per 10,000 FTE.

Social services and health services account for the largest number of workplace violence claims. With the notable exception of psychiatric hospitals, claims rates in healthcare and social assistance industries have declined over this period.

Violence-related claims rates are higher for state and local government workers than for those in the private sector.

See "Work-Related Violence in Washington State" for our latest analysis.

The ability to evaluate trends in industries with regulations directed towards workplace violence prevention is a primary focus of this surveillance system. New regulations mandating violence prevention programs in hospital facilities went into effect in 2000 and 2001.

Decreases in rates of workplace violence through the early 2000s in healthcare workplaces may be related to the change in the regulatory environment.

Purpose and operation


The purpose of the system is the identification of patterns and trends that could be used to reduce, through prevention, the occupational risks associated with violence in the workplace.


  • Describe the incidence, prevalence and mortality associated with violence in the workplace.
  • Identify high risk occupations and industries.
  • Identify useful prevention strategies.
  • Generate hypotheses about causative agents and factors.

Planned uses

  • Identifying outbreaks of workplace violence.
  • Analyzing risks by occupation and industry.
  • Tracking trends in the incidence, prevalence and mortality associated with workplace violence.
  • Sharing information with the public, health care providers, public health professionals, and labor and industry stakeholders.
  • Evaluating efforts to reduce violence as an occupational risk.
  • Measuring progress in achieving Healthy People 2010 Objectives 20-5 and 20-6 regarding work-related homicides and work-related assaults.
  • Comparing results from estimates available in the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.

Case definition

Cases of violent assault are defined by the codes for type of event and source of injury derived from the text descriptions contained in the report of injury in workers' compensation claims. The ANSI Z16.2 codes for type of event are as follows: 023 - kicked by; 025 - bit by; 026 - struck or beaten by; 027 - struck or beaten by in the act of a crime; 502 - shot by another person; and 029 -struck by, not elsewhere classified (included only when the source code is 5900). The ANSI Z16.2 codes for source of injury are as follows: 5900 - person, other than injured), 5999 - unspecified person, 6000 - firearm, all other codes except 5910 - the injured person and 0200 through 0270 - animals of various kinds. Cases of work-place violence resulting in fatality are obtained from the FACE Program.

Legal authority

No additional legal authority was needed to implement this surveillance system.

Organizational location

The surveillance system is located within the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

System components

Population under surveillance

Mortality surveillance includes all workers in the state of Washington. Morbidity surveillance includes workers employed by Washington businesses except farms in SIC code 02 with fewer than 11 employees. Surveillance using workers' compensation claims excludes workers covered by another insurance system (e.g. federal employees) and a few selected groups (e.g. corporate officers, domestic employees) for whom coverage is optional.

Time period for data collection

January 1, 1992, through December 31, 2005.

Collection and reporting sources

Data from workers compensation claims are extracted from Department of Labor & Industries claims data files every two years. Claims data and covered health services data are maintained in a data warehouse. For self-insured employers the claims only include those for which there have been four or more days of time loss. For those employers with state insurance the claims include both time loss and those in which there is payment for medical services. A query is used to extract relevant surveillance data for claims meeting the case definition.

Data management

The surveillance database is extracted as a SAS file. The SAS program provides the necessary record management capabilities.

Data analysis and dissemination

The SAS software is used to perform the appropriate analyses. Excel is used to graph trends. A report is published every two years which identifies changes in trends and industry distributions.

Patient privacy, data confidentiality, and system security

All records with a personal identifier or could be associated with a personal identifier are considered confidential. These records are used only for surveillance and prevention purposes. Physical access to the building and access to individual computers are controlled as part of the security systems of the Department of Labor & Industries.

Workplace violence resources developed by the SHARP program


Workplace violence reports are available from SHARP's Publications page.

Recognize and prevent workplace bullying

Workplace bullying is a serious health and safety issue. The targets of bullying may suffer from physical and mental health problems that can last for many years. Bullying behavior also has serious consequences for businesses, including reduced production and failure to achieve workplace goals.

Learn how to recognize and prevent bullying in your workplace by reading SHARP's publication Workplace Bullying and Disruptive Behavior: What Everyone Needs to Know (1.5 MB PDF).

Links to other workplace violence information

External hyperlinks are provided as a public service by the SHARP Program. Neither L&I nor SHARP are responsible for the reliability or accuracy of the information found on other Web sites (Privacy and Security Policy).

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