The HSE has refreshed its guidance on violence at work, to help employers protect their workers. It explains what work-related violence and aggression is and how employers can protect workers from it.
It is also aimed at safety representatives and people responsible for health and safety in their workplace.
This guidance covers the law, how to assess the risks and put the right controls in place to protect workers.
It also covers what you should do if an incident does occur, what to report and how to support any workers who may be physically or mentally affected.
Definition of violence at work
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as:
- ‘Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.’
It is important to remember that this can include:
- verbal abuse or threats, including face to face, online and via telephone.
- physical attacks
This might include violence from members of the public, customers, clients, patients, service users and students towards a person at work.
For violence to be work-related, it must be in connection with the work activity. For example, the following situations would not be included in this definition:
- personal disputes between workers and other people, such as family members
- violence between people not at work, such as customers or service users
Impact of violence
Work-related violence can have an impact on both you and your workers, including those who may witness an incident. It can cause:
- stress and mental health conditions
- disability or death
There can be physical harm, but serious or persistent verbal abuse or threats can also have a serious effect on a worker’s mental health.
For employers, violence can lead to increased staff sickness, poor morale, and a damaged reputation, making it difficult to recruit and keep staff. It can also mean extra cost, with higher insurance premiums and compensation payments.
Our advice to clients is always a zero-tolerance approach to violence in the workplace, clearly setting this out in a specific policy that is regularly reviewed and enforced through monitoring. Accessing and using this updated guidance will assist in ensuring and violence free workplace and provides some valuable tools to utilise when any such incident does occur, so that it can be dealt with efficiently.