Part of the Job? Workplace Violence in Massachusetts Social Service Agencies

Source: Jennifer R. Zelnick, Elspeth Slayter, Beth Flanzbaum, Nanci Ginty Butler, Beryl Domingo, Judith Perlstein and Carol Trust, Health Social Work, vol. 38 no. 2, May 2013
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From the abstract:
Workplace violence is a serious and surprisingly understudied occupational hazard in social service settings. The authors of this study conducted an anonymous, Internet-based survey of Massachusetts social service agencies to estimate the incidence of physical assault and verbal threat of violence in social service agencies, understand how social service agencies collect data on workplace violence, and identify disparities in who is at risk in terms of staff education and training level and the work setting. The study gathered general descriptions of each agency and compiled incidence data on workplace violence that were collected by agencies in fiscal year 2009. The key findings of this descriptive study showed high rates of workplace violence against social services providers and a pattern of risk disparity, with significantly more risk for direct care versus clinical staff. These results are based on data routinely collected by social service agencies that typically remain unexamined. A research agenda that is sensitive to potential occupational health disparities and focuses on maximizing workplace safety in social services is needed.