Workplace homicide in North Carolina, 1994-2003: a case series and an examination of recommended prevention strategies Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Gurka, Kelly Kathleen
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • Although intentional violence is an important cause of occupational fatality, limited research has been conducted examining the epidemiology of workplace homicide. Most of that research has focused on robbery-related violence. Although recommendations for preventing workplace violence exist and many are widely implemented, no studies have systematically assessed whether these strategies reduce the risk of homicide when the perpetrator had a prior relationship with either the workplace or at least one of its employees (prior-relationship homicides). Two studies to address this topic were undertaken. In the first study, a case series of occupational homicides in North Carolina occurring from 1994 through 2003 was assembled. Robbery-related and non-robbery-related events were contrasted and classified using a previously published occupational violence typology. Most North Carolina occupational homicides occurred during robbery of the workplace (63%), and strangers perpetrated over two-thirds (73%) of the robbery-related killings. However, a sizable fraction (37%) of occupational homicides during the study period were not robbery-related. Perpetrators with a prior relationship with the workplace or an employee committed 89% of non-robbery-related homicides. Homicides not related to robbery occurred in a range of industrial sectors (retail: 28%, service: 26%, and manufacturing: 22%), whereas robbery-related homicides occurred overwhelmingly in the retail sector (67%). In the second study, a case-control study examined whether recommended environmental attributes and administrative policies, thought to be protective of robbery-related violence, reduce the odds of prior-relationship homicide. The case-control study suggested that workplaces located in an industrial park, employing minorities, reporting a history of violence, open any night hours, or open 24 hours any day were more likely to experience prior-relationship homicide. Keeping entrances to the workplace locked when employees were present (OR = 0.36, 95% CI: 0.13, 0.99) and having at least one security device (OR = 0.28, 95% CI: 0.10, 0.74) appeared to protect against prior-relationship homicide. In summary, non-robbery-related homicides were shown to constitute a meaningful proportion of occupational homicides, and the characteristics of these cases differ significantly from those that are robbery related. Some strategies typically recommended to prevent robberies and subsequent violence may also be effective at preventing prior-relationship homicides.
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  • In Copyright
  • Marshall, Stephen
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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