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Businessweek Archives

Talk About Murder Inc.

Up Front


Workplace homicides are rising. A new clearinghouse on this grisly subject at the University of Oklahoma B-school finds that 1,000 workers were murdered on the job in 1992, vs. a steady annual average of 600 in the 1980s.

Homicide is now the No.3 work-related cause of death, behind car crashes and other machinery accidents. (Maladies like heart attacks don't count.)

And the leading cause of death for women in the workplace now is foul play: Since 1980, 41% of the females who died on the job were murdered.

The scourge ranges from aggrieved employees blowing away managers to jilted workplace lovers seeking revenge to lunatics off the street. The biggest risk is in regimented workplaces, such as post offices, where some employees feel they have no control over their work, says Oklahoma B-school Dean Richard Cosier. But also at high risk are retail establishments, open to all. The classic case was the late-1991 massacre of 24 at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Tex. The gunman, who wounded 18 others, killed himself.

Cosier recommends workers be trained so they know what to do when someone with a gun goes berserk: Calm the person down and stall for time.Douglas Harbrecht

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