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The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.
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On top of the inherent stress and physical hazards of serving the public, many in the public sector also face intense hazing, bullying and harassment in the performance of their jobs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration classifies bullying as a traumatic event, and the Workplace Bullying Institute indicates 60.4 million people are affected by bullying in the workplace. This represents 38.4% of the nation’s workforce.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows injury incident rates for local and state government workers are significantly higher than those for workers in other industries. While government workers make up only 13.4% of the workforce, they sustained 19.6% of the injuries in 2016, according to NSC estimates.
It is reasonable to suggest that the same government workers over-represented in the data with regard to physical injuries also are over-represented with regard to workplace violence and bullying. In fact, violence is a leading cause of death among government workers, second only to transportation incidents.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health classifies perpetrators of workplace violence in four ways:
CareerCast recently identified the most stressful occupations in the country. Three of the top five at-risk jobs for stress include police officers, firefighters and enlisted members of the military – all predominantly public sector occupations. Workplace violence and harassment cause an added level of job stress, which puts workers at a higher risk for health problems, like high blood pressure, insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation.
Public sector safety professionals can help create safer work environments by providing policies, training and procedures to address bullying, harassment and violence in the workplace:
Employers must recognize and address emotional trauma that might result from workplace violence and make sure each worker can enjoy a place of employment free from behaviors or hazards that are likely to cause stress, serious physical harm or death.
The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Donate to our cause.
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization.