When we think about workplace safety, we usually think about dangerous factory equipment or safety goggles. Office workers might worry about the danger of chairs or asbestos. But women with violent partners face another danger: Their partners coming to their workplace and committing violence. A horrifying new study finds that 142 women were killed on the job by their husbands or boyfriends between 2003 and 2008.
Researchers found that partner violence accounted for 22% of all workplace homicides of women in that five-year period. The study was published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology by researchers from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University.
According to previous research, murder is the top cause of “injury death” for women at work, accounting for 40% of all deaths. Most of those murders take place in the course of robberies at workplaces like restaurants and convenience stories. But the new research found that the second leading type of workplace homicide against women is carried out by “personal relations,” with about 80% of them “intimate partners” — boyfriends or husbands.
What do those numbers mean? More women died on the job because of domestic violence than because of violence by clients (including prisoners and mental patients!) or disgruntled co-workers. Private workplaces including restaurants, hotels, and retail stores were among the most common locations of violence. Federal, state, and local government workplaces were significantly safer. Women who work in health care, production, and office administration were at the highest risk of partner violence.
What do we take away from all this? It’s not that most of us have to be afraid of going to work. But it’s a sad reminder than for women in violent relationships, the workplace isn’t necessarily a safe space.