Monday, April 25, 2005

Workplace Violence: Missing The Story?

Clifton Patterson of Benton, Mississippi was fatally shot at work last week in by a co-worker during a dispute over missing mechanic's tools.

Following the shooting, an article entitled "Workplace shootings in Mississippi" appeared in the Jackson Clarion Ledger. The article describes the killings of a dozen workers over the past 19 years. That's not bad, I thought. Only 12 workers shot in almost 20 years? But reading closer, I realized that these were all workers killed by co-workers who had "gone postal." But what about all of the workers shot to death in convenience store robberies? Don't they count as "workplace shootings?" What about law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, like Thomas Catchings, a 41-year-old Jackson motorcycle patrol officer who was killed last week in a gun battle. Wasn't he a worker?

Actually, so-called "worker-on-worker" or "internecine" violence amounts to no more than about 7% of all workplace violence, even though it receives most of the press. In fact, violence, mostly from retail robberies, is the leading cause of death among immigrant workers. But all of those workers who get shot in convenience or police officers who chose dangerous work somehow aren't as sexy as workers who "go postal."

Related Stories

Immigrants & Teens: Frontline Soldiers in the War Against Retail Crime?, July 28, 2004
Workplace Violence: Fashionable vs. Unfashionable, January 18, 2004