The Washington Post

Report looks at violence in the federal workplace


Although most federal employees feel secure at work, “13 percent of Federal employees said they had observed an incident of workplace violence in the past two years,” according to a new Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) survey.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer patrols the grounds surrounding the U.S. Capitol. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The most common type of violence observed “was, by far, violence perpetrated by current or former employees,” the survey found. “Survey respondents observed this type of workplace violence more often than violence perpetrated by all other individuals combined.”

The good news is, almost three-quarters of the employees “agreed that their agencies take sufficient steps to ensure their safety from violence occurring at their workplace.”

The findings are based primarily on a 2010 survey of almost 72,000 employees. Postal employees were not included. Fifty-eight percent, or 42,000 surveys, were returned and considered valid.

Most violence did not result in either physical injury or property damage. Fifteen incidents resulted in physical injury and 10 percent in property loss or damage.

Among other things, MSBP recommended that agencies develop formal workplace violence prevention programs, collect data on workplace violence and screen applicants for a history of violent behavior.

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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