Researchers Dana Loomis, Stephen W. Marshall and Myduc Ta compared 87 cases in which an employee was killed on the job in North Carolina between 1994 and 1998 with 177 comparable worksites across the state where no homicide occurred. They excluded cases and controls where employers had no explicit policies about weapons.
"We observed a small increase in the risk of homicide for workplaces that prohibited guns but allowed other kinds of weapons," Loomis said. "In contrast, there was a nearly seven-fold increase in the risk of a worker being killed in workplaces that allowed guns and other weapons."
Adjusting for various workplace characteristics reduced the added chance of homicide by about a third, but the increased risk was still clear, he said.
Guns Increase Risks
"We donít know employers' reasons for allowing workers to have guns on the job, but the belief that firearms offer protection against crime is obviously a possible motive," Loomis said.
"However, our data suggest that, like residents of households with guns, who are more likely to be victims of homicide, workers in places where the employer allows guns have a greater chance of being killed at work," he said.
The findings bear directly on workplace safety policies, Loomis said. "In light of these findings, employers should question the risks and benefits of permitting firearms."
The report on the UNC School of Public Health investigation appears in the May 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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