Everyone makes jokes about the awfulness of work — My job is killing me, people whine. If I have to go to work tomorrow, I will literally die. But for an unfortunate subset of American workers, work really is literally deadly. More than 4,400 American workers died at work or as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2013. An unfortunate 400 of those people were victims of homicide. This is a breakdown of how, why, and where those victims died.
1) How violent workplace deaths happen
From 2003 to 2013, there were nearly 9,000 violent workplace deaths. Over half of them were due to shooting, but more than one-quarter were suicides. Not all of them were human-inflicted, however; around 4.5 percent were due to animal attacks.
Murders aren't all that common on the job; they made up around 9 percent of all job-related deaths in 2013. And in good news, they were down last year — whereas there were 397 in 2013, there were 247 in 2012.
2) America's high-murder jobs
Cops and security guards are two of the occupations that have suffered the most murders in the past few years. That's not much of a surprise — all these people are tasked with protecting others. But mixed in this list are a few professions that may sound quite a bit safer — retail sales workers and waitresses, for example.
Why? According to OSHA, exchanging money with the public, working late at night, working in dangerous neighborhoods, and working where alcohol is sold are all risk factors for workplace violence. And several (or even all) of those factors apply to many of the jobs on this list — consider the convenience store clerks, taxi drivers, and bartenders working late at night with lots of cash and intoxicated clientele, and those jobs suddenly seem much more dangerous. Add in the fact that there are also just a lot of cashiers, waiters, and taxi drivers, and the high numbers make even more sense.
3) More men are murdered at work, but it's still a huge problem for women
Men are far more often the victims of workplace-related homicide than women — more than four times as many men as women were murdered at work from 2011 to 2013, though women made up nearly half of all workers during that period.
However, homicide is still a unique threat to women in the sense that it accounts for a disproportionately large share of their on-the-job deaths. Homicides made up more than one in five of women's workplace deaths in 2013, compared with 8 percent of men's deaths. Even more depressing: 36 percent of those homicides of women were committed by relatives or domestic partners. For men, that share is just 1 percent. Men's biggest danger, meanwhile, is robbery.
4) The oldest workers are the most likely to be killed
Over the past three years, the most workplace homicides by the raw numbers have been of 45- to 54-year-olds, at an average of 114 per year. But then, they also work the largest number of hours.
When you break it down into rates by hours worked, the oldest workers are also the most likely to be killed at work. In 2013, workers 65 and older suffered more than two homicides per million hours worked in that year. In comparison, that high-murder group of 45- to-54-year-olds was only at 1.6.
And beyond murders, the oldest workers have by far the highest death rate on the job, at 8.8 deaths per full-time-equivalent worker — more than twice any other age group.
5) Where the murders happen
Lots of states had zero homicides in workplaces in 2013. But among those that did, Arizona was the leader, with 8.3 homicides per million workers (though it's well behind DC's 18.7). All told, there were 21 on-the-job murders that year. At the other end of the spectrum, 11 states had zero.