Voices carry: Effects of verbal and physical aggression on injuries and accident reporting

Recent years have witnessed a staggeringly high number of workplace aggressive behaviors as well as employee accidents and injuries. Exposure to workplace aggression is associated with a host of negative psychological, emotional, and physiological outcomes, yet research relating workplace aggression to employee safety outcomes is lacking. This study aims to examine the association between exposure to workplace physical and verbal aggression with workplace injuries and underreporting of accidents and near misses. Furthermore, deriving from social exchange theory, the authors attempt to reveal an underlying mechanism in the association between workplace aggression and underreporting of accidents and near misses. Finally, borrowing from aggression research on intimate relationships, they compare the relative importance of exposure to physical and verbal aggression on workplace injuries and underreporting. Using survey data from 364 public transportation personnel, the authors found that both verbal and physical aggression significantly predict workplace injuries as well as underreporting. Moreover, mediation analyses found that the relationship between verbal and physical aggression and underreporting was largely explained by an increase in negative reporting attitudes (rather than decreases in safety knowledge or motivation). Compared to exposure to physical aggression, exposure to verbal aggression best predicted employee underreporting of accidents and near misses. However, physical aggression was a better predictor of injuries than verbal aggression. Given these findings, organizational leaders should strive to foster a safe working environment by minimizing interpersonal mistreatment and increasing employee attitudes for reporting accidents.


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  • Accession Number: 01677048
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 7 2018 3:04PM