Things More Dangerous than Nuclear Power: The Workplace

I was goofing around with a couple of friends in the lunch room the other day and, after doing something hilarious to my colleague that involved his napkin, he exclaimed, “I swear to god that if you do that again, I’ll pour this fry sauce on your head and decorate it with this ripped up napkin!” I retorted, “That sounds like workplace violence to me!

Unsure whether the threat of pouring fry sauce on my head constituted workplace violence, we texted my girlfriend, who is a human resources specialist. She nearly gave me the OSHA definition verbatim:

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors.

Later that day my girlfriend inquired as to what I had done to receive workplace violence. I told her. She said I deserved it. Psht.

Joking aside, violence in the workplace is a pretty serious issue. The CDC states that:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15,980 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence in 2014. These incidents required days away from work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 409 workers in private industry and government were workplace homicide victims in 2014.

Who would have thought that you could be murdered being a “recyclable material merchant wholesaler”? (See above link for all of the random professions with homicides)

One of the arguments against nuclear power is that it is potentially very dangerous and can kill millions of people. The fact of the matter is that, annually in the United States, more people are murdered on the job by disgruntled employees than commercial nuclear power, which has killed zero people in the 60 years it has existed. Given that 32% of the 409 workplace homicide victims work in retail, you are more likely to be murdered working at Hot Topic than dying because of nuclear power.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Idaho National Laboratory or of any agency of the U.S. government.

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