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What Factors put Social Workers at an Increased Risk of Verbal and Physical Violence?

By Ali Al Jabry, CEO & Co-founder of Kwema

Originally published on Kwema's website.

Every day, social workers all around the United States provide a wide range of services in extremely complex environments including child protective services and welfare agencies, schools, mental health centers and hospitals.  Safety can be a concern in many of these settings. Social workers are often in precarious situations without proper safety training, no co-worker, or working with limited or obsolete safety equipment. Unfortunately, there have been many social workers who have been targets of verbal and physical abuse and some have even tragically lost their lives while on the job.


As mentioned above, many social workers are employed in settings that can put them at a significant risk of experiencing verbal and physical abuse while on the job.  A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2015) revealed that nearly 75% of the workplace assaults that occurred each year between 2011 and 2013 took place in a health care or social services setting. The vast majority of these assaults were nonfatal but many resulted in serious injuries and time away from the job.


The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has stated that social workers facing safety issues m