Tuesday, September 21, 2010
[IWS] Dublin Foundation: PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL VIOLENCE AT THE WORKPLACE [17 September 2010]
IWS Documented News Service
Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach
School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky
New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau
European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Dublin Foundation)
Foundation findings - Physical and psychological violence at the workplace [17 September 2010]
[full-text, 24 pages]
Summary: Workplace violence is a social phenomenon of a certain magnitude. Overall, approximately one in ten European workers report having experienced some form of workplace violence, either physical or psychological, in the previous 12 months. Foundation Findings provide pertinent background information and policy pointers for all actors and interested parties engaged in the current European debate on the future of social policy. The contents are based on Foundation research and reflect its autonomous and tripartite structure.
- Workplace violence is a social phenomenon of a certain magnitude. Overall, approximately
one in ten European workers report having experienced some form of workplace violence, either
physical or psychological, in the previous 12 months.
- Overall, levels of reported psychological violence are as high as those of physical violence.
The incidence of threats of physical violence tends to be higher than exposure to actual physical
abuse. Among types of psychological violence, bullying/harassment is more prevalent than sexual
- There are marked variations in exposure to workplace violence between European
countries. On the whole, exposure to all forms of violence is greater in northern Europe while
incidence rates are lower in southern and eastern European countries. The significant country
variations of reported exposure to workplace violence may reflect different levels of awareness of
the issue and willingness to report, as well as of actual occurrence.
- Major differences in the incidence of workplace violence are apparent across sectors.
Exposure to all forms of violence tends to be concentrated in sectors with above average contact
with the public. The level of physical and psychological violence is particularly high in the
education and health sectors as well as in public administration.
- Women, particularly younger women, appear to be more subject to psychological violence
(bullying/harassment, sexual harassment) in the workplace than men. However,
circumstantial aspects of women’s work – e.g. sector, gender of boss, proportion of employees in
customer-oriented roles – should be taken into account when assessing the incidence of
workplace violence by gender.
- Both physical and psychological violence have serious implications for the health and wellbeing
of workers. Workers exposed to psychosocial risks report significantly higher levels of
work-related ill-health than those who do not. The most common reported symptoms are stress,
sleeping problems, anxiety and irritability.
- Exposure to psychological violence is correlated with higher than average rates of
absenteeism. Although psychological violence is, by its nature, more cumulative in its impact
than physical violence, its negative health effects measured in terms of absenteeism due to workrelated
ill-health are more severe than those associated with physical workplace violence.
- Work environment factors contribute to the incidence of workplace violence. For example,
low levels of control over one’s work and high levels of work intensity (tight deadlines, working
at very high speed), working in frequent contact with customers, clients and other non-colleagues
are associated with a higher likelihood of being bullied.
This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.
Director, IWS News Bureau
Institute for Workplace Studies
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New York, NY 10016
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