Firearm workplace homicides are a significant problem in the United States. We sought to provide a current, national-level examination of these crimes and examine how perpetrators accessed firearms used in workplace homicides.
We abstracted information on all firearm workplace homicides from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from 2011 to 2015. We classified deaths by perpetrator’s relationship to the workplace/victim, motive (robbery v. non-robbery), circumstance (argument v. other circumstances), and firearm access points using narrative text fields.
There were 1553 firearm workplace homicides during the study period. Robbery crime trended downward from 2011 to 2015. In contrast, non-robbery crimes constituted almost 50% of the homicides and trended upward in recent years. Customers and co-workers were the most frequent perpetrators of non-robbery crimes, most after an argument. While customers and co-workers who commit these crimes were often armed at the time of the argument, some were not and retrieved a firearm from an unspecified location before committing a homicide. Thus, immediate and ready firearm access was commonly observed in argumentative workplace deaths.
Limiting firearm access in the workplace is a possible measure for preventing deadly workplace violence and should be considered as part of a comprehensive strategy for addressing this reemerging public health concern.