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Skip module menu and go to content. Online Catalogue Main page Highlights Findings Figures Methodology Bibliography More information Criminal victimization in the workplace in PDF version Other issues of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series

Aftermath and consequences of violent workplace victimization incidents

Weapon use not common in violent workplace incidents
One out of five violent workplace incidents resulted in injuries to the victim
Victims of violent workplace incidents more likely to report to police than victims of non-workplace incidents
Male victims much more likely to report violent workplace incidents to police
Police action more likely in workplace incidents than in non-workplace incidents
“Incident dealt with another way” most common reason for not reporting to police
Victims of violent workplace incidents most likely to turn to co-workers
Initiatives designed to prevent and address workplace violence

Weapon use not common in violent workplace incidents

Weapons were not often used in violent incidents, regardless of the location. About 19% of workplace incidents involved the use of a weapon, such as a gun, a knife, a bottle, a stick or a bat. This proportion was not statistically different from the 16% of violent non-workplace incidents involving the use of a weapon.

One out of five violent workplace incidents resulted in injuries to the victim

The victim reported suffering injuries in about 21% of violent workplace incidents, similar to the 23% for violent non-workplace incidents. Violent workplace incidents involving male victims (27%) were more likely to result in injuries compared to those involving female victims (17%).

For some victims, the consequence of the workplace victimization was emotional. The most commonly reported emotional impacts on victims of workplace violence were being angry (21% of incidents), being upset, confused or frustrated (20% of incidents) and feeling fearful (15% of incidents). In over one-quarter of incidents, the victim stated that the incident had little emotional effect on them (27%). The emotional impacts were similar for victims of violent non-workplace incidents.

Victims of violent workplace incidents were more likely than victims of non-workplace incidents to report finding it difficult to carry out everyday activities as a result of their incident (25% versus 14%), even though workplace and non-workplace incidents were equally likely to result in injuries to the victim.

Victims of violent workplace incidents more likely to report to police than victims of non-workplace incidents

Violent workplace incidents were much more likely to come to the attention of the police than were violent incidents that occurred elsewhere (37% versus 17%) (Figure 3). This may be due in part to the public nature of workplace violence or the presence of witnesses.

Figure 3  Victims more likely to turn to a co-worker following a violent workplace incident, 2004. Opens a new browser window.

Figure 3  Victims more likely to turn to a co-worker following a violent workplace incident, 2004


A number of additional factors can influence a victim’s decision to report their violent incident to police including: to stop the incident or receive protection, to arrest and punish the offender or because the victim felt it was his or her duty to notify police. When looking at incidents that were reported to the police, in a substantial majority of workplace incidents, the reason that victims gave for reporting to police was that they felt a duty to report the incident (97%), perhaps to prevent other co-workers from becoming victims.  This same reason for reporting to the police was given in 88% of violent incidents that did not occur in the workplace.1

Research has shown that several other factors come into play when a victim decides to report their violent incident. These can include the degree of severity and the seriousness of the offence, whether the victim was injured, whether a weapon was present during the incident or whether a victim had to take time off from their main activity because of the violence. This was also true for violent workplace incidents, for example, incidents in which a weapon was present were more than 1.5 times more likely to come to the attention of police (58% versus 32%) than those that did not involve the use of a weapon.

Male victims much more likely to report violent workplace incidents to police

Male victims of violent workplace incidents were almost three times more likely than their female counterparts to bring their incident to the attention of police (57% versus 20% of incidents). This might be partly explained by the fact that males were more likely to suffer injuries as a result of workplace violence compared to their female counterparts. In addition, women are more often victims of sexual assault, which has the lowest reporting rate to police.

When looking at non-workplace incidents, 21% of incidents involving male victims were reported to police while the proportion of non-workplace violent incidents reported to the police by females was not releasable.

Police action more likely in workplace incidents than in non-workplace incidents

Among all violent workplace incidents that were brought to the attention of police, police visited the scene in 89% of incidents and conducted an investigation in 80% of incidents. This compares to 76% and 58% of incidents that occurred outside of the workplace. Police were also more likely to take the following actions in workplace incidents compared to those occurring in non-workplace locations: take the offender away (49% versus 24%) and arrest or lay charges against the offender (39% versus 29%). In about half of workplace and non-workplace incidents, police gave the offender a warning (51% and 49% respectively).

Victims who reported their violent incident to police were asked about their satisfaction with the actions the police took. Victims of violent workplace incidents were more likely than victims of violent non-workplace incidents to say they were either somewhat or very satisfied with the actions police took (88% versus 54%). This can be partly explained by the fact that actions were taken against the offender in a higher proportion of violent workplace incidents compared to non-workplace incidents.

“Incident dealt with another way” most common reason for not reporting to police

Respondents who did not report their victimization to the police were asked to state their reasons for not reporting. The most commonly reported reason was that the incident was dealt with another way (74%). This could include reporting to another official or a manager.2 Other common reasons for not reporting to police included: the incident was not important enough (44%), the incident was a personal matter and did not concern police (31%) and victim did not want to get involved with police (30%). These findings were comparable to the reasons reported by victims of non-workplace incidents.

Victims of violent workplace incidents most likely to turn to co-workers

The majority of violent workplace incidents (96%) resulted in victims turning to an informal source of support to help deal or cope with the victimization. In almost nine out of ten incidents, victims said they told another co-worker about the incident. This may be due to the fact that co-workers are more likely to be a readily available source of help for victims. In similar proportions of incidents, victims said they either told family (68%), or friends or neighbours (64%). In a much smaller proportion of incidents (20%), victims told a doctor or a nurse (Figure 3).

Among non-workplace incidents, the most common informal source of help was a friend or a neighbour (76% of incidents). In almost half of incidents (47%) the victim told family, in 30% of incidents the victim told a co-worker and the victim turned to a doctor or a nurse in 6% of incidents.

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Initiatives designed to prevent and address workplace violence

In 1993, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) conducted a survey which revealed that over 60% of respondents had been victims of an aggressive act in the previous two years.

With the increase in attention to issues around violent victimization in the workplace, unions, agencies and corporations have made workplace violence a health and safety priority and have undertaken active measures to protect employees from internal and external forms of workplace violence. Examples of such efforts include training, legislation, modification of work environments, and implementation of security protocols and procedures (Pizzino, 2002).

Federal and provincial governments have also addressed workplace violence through the creation or modification of legislation containing violence prevention provisions. For example, in 2000, the Canada Labour Code was amended to include a specific article pertaining to workplace violence, stating that employers are required to take the prescribed steps to prevent and protect against workplace violence.  These regulations require: identification of violence potential situations or environments; assessment of violence potential situations or environments; development of control procedures; training and education programs; and, audit and review protocols.

It has been recognized that in order to effectively address violence in the workplace, employees should be active participants in violence prevention and employers should have a strong commitment to the process (Pizzino, 2002).

Notes

  1. Respondents were able to cite multiple reasons for contacting the police.

  2. Respondents were able to cite multiple reasons for not reporting incidents to police. Therefore, percentages do not total 100%.

 


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Date modified: 2007-02-16 Important Notices