Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are assaulted at work

Ottawa (19 Feb. 2007) - Canadian workplaces are dangerous places for an astonishing number of workers, says Statistics Canada.

Nearly one-fifth of all incidents of violent victimization occurred in the workplace in 2004, the agency reports in a first-of-a-kind study measuring criminal victimization on the job.

The study used self-reported data from a 'general social survey' of approximately 24,000 households concerning the prevalence of violence over a 12-month period related to three offences (physical assault, sexual assault and robbery).

Respondents reported more than 356,000 violent incidents in workplaces in all 10 provinces. The majority, 71%, were classified as physical assaults.

For the purposes of the study, a 'workplace' was defined as a commercial or institutional establishment, such as a restaurant or bar, a school, a commercial or office building, a factory, a store, a hospital or a prison.

The study found that men and women were equally likely to have reported experiencing workplace violence, but men were more likely to be injured. Specifically, 27% of incidents involving male victims resulted in injuries, compared with 17% for female victims.

Social assistance and health care workers vulnerable

Violence was much more common in certain employment sectors. One-third of all workplace violent incidents involved a victim who was working in social assistance or health care areas such as hospitals, nursing or residential care facilities.

The study also found a high proportion of incidents in the accommodation and food services sectors, the retail and wholesale trade, and in educational services.

The incidents were twice as likely as violent episodes outside the workplace to be reported to police (37% compared to 17%).

Overall, 57% of incidents involving male victims were reported, compared to 20% for female victims.

The survey asked victims whether they talked to anyone about what they had experienced. In nearly 9 out of 10 incidents, victims said they told another co-worker. In about two-thirds of the incidents, they told family, friends or neighbours. Doctors or nurses were informed in 20% of incidents.

More information:
• Statistics Canada Study: Criminal victimization in the workplace
• Download complete study - PDF