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Half of U.S. Workers Face On-the-Job Violence

And the abuse usually comes from customers or clients, survey finds

THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly half of American workers are victims of workplace aggression and most of this abuse comes not from co-workers but from customers, clients or patients, a new national survey finds.

"Forty-seven million Americans experience psychological or physical aggression while on the job. Interestingly, workers pinpoint the general public as the most significant source of this aggression, as opposed to other co-workers or supervisors," researcher Aaron Schat, assistant professor at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Canada, said in a prepared statement.

The survey found that more than 40 percent of American workers reported being the victims of psychological aggression, including being screamed at, insulted, or threatened with physical violence. About 6 percent of workers said they've actually been slapped, kicked or attacked with a weapon. Nearly all (96 percent) of workers who suffered physical violence also reported some form of psychological abuse.

Nearly 25 percent of workers surveyed said they were victims of aggression from customers, clients, patients or other members of the public, 15 percent said they'd experienced aggression from co-workers, and 13 percent reported that their bosses or supervisors were the culprits.

"Exposure to aggressive behavior at work is associated with a wide range of negative consequences for individuals and organizations, including negative work attitudes, reduced well-being, and, in cases of physical violence, bodily injury or death. The fact that such a large percentage of the American population has experienced workplace aggression demonstrates the need to address it," Schat said.

The survey findings are included in the Handbook of Workplace Violence, which will be published in February.

More information

The U.S. Department of Labor has more about workplace violence.

SOURCE: McMaster University, news release, Jan. 17, 2006
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