Workplace violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: March–October, 2020, United States

Source avec lien : Journal of Safety Research, (Prépublication). 10.1016/j.jsr.2022.07.004

Le COVID-19 a eu un impact sur les travailleurs et les lieux de travail aux États-Unis de multiples façons, notamment par des événements de violence au travail (WVE). Cette analyse a balayé les sources médiatiques en ligne afin d’identifier et de décrire les caractéristiques des événements de violence au travail liés au COVID-19 survenus aux États-Unis au cours des premières phases de la pandémie.

Problem COVID-19 has impacted United States workers and workplaces in multiple ways including workplace violence events (WVEs). This analysis scanned online media sources to identify and describe the characteristics of WVEs related to COVID-19 occurring in the United States during the early phases of the pandemic. Method Publicly available online media reports were searched for COVID-19-related WVEs during March 1–October 31, 2020. A list of 41 keywords was used to scan four search engines using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Authors manually reviewed media reports for inclusion using the study definition and to code variables of interest. Descriptive statistics were calculated across three types of violence: non-physical, physical, and events with both physical and non-physical violence. Results The search of media reports found 400 WVEs related to COVID-19 during March 1–October 31, 2020. Of the WVEs, 27% (n = 108) involved non-physical violence, 27% (n = 109) physical violence, and 41% (n = 164) both physical and non-physical violence. Nineteen WVEs could not be assigned to a specific type of violence (5%). Most occurred in retail and dining establishments (n = 192, 48%; n = 74, 19%, respectively). Most WVEs related to COVID-19 were perpetrated by a customer or client (n = 298, 75%), but some were perpetrated by a worker (n = 61, 15%). Most perpetrators were males (n = 234, 59%) and acted alone (n = 313, 79%). The majority of WVEs were related to mask disputes (n = 286, 72%). In 22% of the WVEs, the perpetrator coughed or spit on a worker while threatening infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Discussion This analysis demonstrated that media scraping may be useful for workplace violence surveillance. The pandemic resulted in unique violent events, including those perpetrated by workers. Typical workplace violence prevention strategies may not be effective in reducing COVID-19-related violence. More research on workplace training for workers during public health crises is needed.

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