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Risk Factors for Injury in Robberies of Convenience Stories Examined in NIOSH Study

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
May 1997

Convenience store owners, operators, and workers are among the occupational groups at highest risk for workplace homicide. A new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Convenience Store Robberies in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Risk Factors for Employee Injury,” published in the May 1997 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, notes several factors related to the risk of employee injury in convenience store robberies.

Because of limitations in the data analyzed, the study is most useful as a feasibility study that suggests focal points for further research. It cannot answer key questions about the risk of job-related violence in the convenience store setting — for example, the question of whether the presence of two or more employees in a store at the same time will deter robbery, because information was available only for robbed stores.

NIOSH initiated the project to determine the feasibility of studying robbery-related injuries in convenience stores, using state criminal justice data. Although a number of studies have addressed the various strategies used in the convenience store setting to prevent robbery and robbery-related injuries, the evidence as to the effectiveness of specific design features is inconsistent. Data were collected from police departments in seven states that had the capacity to identify convenience store robberies and had the highest numbers (of those submitting data) of convenience store robberies during 1992.

In the 1,835 convenience store robberies documented, at least 12 employees were killed and 219 sustained nonfatal injuries. Data from four states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia — contained more complete information about risk factors than the data from the other states. NIOSH analyzed these data to estimate the risk of employee injury in a robbery, according to various risk factors.

Although the overall risk of employee injury in a robbery and the deterrent effect of any particular strategy could not be estimated because information was available only for robbed stores, with no comparable information for stores that were not robbed, the study found from 758 robberies in these four states that:

there were 5 homicides and 88 nonfatal assaults of convenience store workers;

employee probability of injury was significantly lower when the perpetrator used a firearm, although all of the homicides were firearm-related;

employee probability of injury was significantly lower in stores which had been robbed multiple times versus only once;

employee probability of injury was significantly lower when money was stolen than when no money was taken;

employee probability of injury was significantly lower when customers were present at the time of the robbery; and

employee risk of injury was not significantly different between one and multiple-employee stores.

NIOSH has conducted pioneering research on workplace violence, including a landmark June 1996 report that analyzed national data on assaults and homicides in different industries and identified major risk factors and potential prevention strategies.

For more information on this study or for information on other workplace health and safety concerns, contact NIOSH toll: 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) or visit the NIOSH site on the World Wide Web at: