Violence Looming Larger as Workplace Threat Study Says Homicides on the Job Jumped 33 Percent in '92

By Virginia Baldwin Hick Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 11, 1993 | Go to article overview

Violence Looming Larger as Workplace Threat Study Says Homicides on the Job Jumped 33 Percent in '92


Virginia Baldwin Hick Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Workplace violence is on the increase - in the nation and right here in St. Louis.

Just last week, an employee of an auto lubrication service at Hanley Road and Page Avenue shot two people - his ex-girlfriend and her brother - who went to his workplace to ask him to leave her alone. The two victims remain in critical condition; the employee is in jail.

A study made public earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics says workplace homicides last year increased 33 percent over the year before. Local incidents counted among the survey's 1,001 homicides last year included a double shooting in a Maryland Heights plumbing company and a shooting at the St. Louis County Courthouse, in which an estranged husband killed his wife and wounded four others before a security guard shot him.

Next year's national report of 1993 fatalities will include a pizza delivery man shot last July and a security guard at St. Louis Housing Authority, shot in August.

Law-enforcement agencies do not keep statistics on nonfatal assaults by particular location, so figures are hard to come by. The FBI has begun a voluntary project to collect more data on nonfatal violent crimes but lacks enough information to draw conclusions.

But as Herb Rosenbaum, a neurologist and psychiatric researcher at Washington University Medical School, put it: "More people carry guns. They go to work, they get angry, and they shoot somebody."

Said Ed Stout, executive director of Aid for Victims of Crime Inc., a nonprofit support and referral group: "Most people don't normally think of their workplace as a dangerous place to be. It's like your home. When something like a homicide or assault occurs, even if you're not the person assaulted, all of a sudden, it's not a safe place."

Next week, law-enforcement officers from across the country will be in St. Louis for the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention. Joseph A. Kinney will present a seminar on workplace violence. Kinney, executive director of the National Safe Workplace Institute, in Chicago, works with insurance companies and large companies to prevent or reduce attacks.

"People are terrified," Kinney said. "They are sick of what's going on, and they want some solutions."

Using insurance reports, Kinney's group separates violent incidents on the job into four categories:

Robberies or other property crime.

Domestic disputes or ex-spouse conflicts.

Disgruntled employees or ex-employees.

Terrorism or hate crimes.

Attacks directed at bosses or supervisors is the category rising the most, Kinney said.

Problems in the economy seem to have influenced the increase, Kinney said, but they are not necessarily about money. More likely, an employee turned violent is reacting to changes in the workplace and the loss or threatened loss of his job. …

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