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Safe and Sound

NEW YORK -- People in certain jobs are known to face a higher risk of workplace homicide, but certain safety measures -- such as ensuring that employees don't work alone at night -- appear to cut this risk, a North Carolina study shows.

Researchers found that businesses that eliminated solo work at night, or took certain other safety precautions like providing bright exterior lights, substantially lowered the odds that an employee would be killed on the job, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Yet other widely used crime deterrents, like video surveillance cameras and posted signs stating the business has limited cash on hand, did not make a dent in robbery-related homicides, according to the study's findings.

Overall, "administrative measures" -- business policies on factors such as the number of employees on duty and how often bank deposits are made -- appeared to offer the most worker protection, the study's lead author, Dr. Dana Loomis of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Reuters Health.

Loomis and colleagues looked at 105 North Carolina workplaces where an employee had been killed between 1994 and 1998. They compared these workplaces with a random sample of similar businesses in the state.

According to Loomis, a majority of the homicides occurred in industries traditionally considered "high-risk," such as convenience stores, gas stations and taxi services. However, the researcher added, homicides occurred in a wide range of business types, "from manufacturing to real estate management."

And 40 percent, the investigators found, were not robbery-related, but instead involved disputes between workers or with managers or clients. Some disputes involved a worker's domestic partner or family member.

With these types of homicides, traditional robbery deterrents were largely ineffective, the report indicates.
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