Vol. 1, Issue 22 (Jun 03) Violence in the Workplace

What is violence at work?

Many people think of violence at work only in terms of physical attacks on members of staff by members of the public. However, in the context of workplace Health & Safety the meaning of ‘violence’ has been broadened to encapsulate all kinds of abusive, aggressive behaviour or actions that might contribute towards or result in physical and/or psychological harm happening to the victim.

The Health and safety Executives’ definition.

“Any incident where an employee is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, well being or health.”

Employees don’t have to wait until they get injured before they take a stand on inadequate standards of safety against violence. They are fully protected against suffering any detriment for walking off the job if in their own judgement, they face a serious and imminent danger of serious harm which they feel they would not be able to avert or cope safely with. (s44 Employment Rights Act 1996)

Employees who find themselves needing to take this course of action are entitled to stay away while the danger remains – and they’re fully protected against suffering any detriment for doing so.

Forward thinking risk managers should consider adopting the following definition.

“Any behaviour or action (s) incorporating or motivated by aggression that contributes to physical or psychological harm happening to anyone at the workplace or in circumstances relating to the workplace, including overbearing, abusive, intimidating, offensive, inconsiderate, malicious or insulting behaviour, which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, which undermines their self-confidence and/or which may be likely to cause them to suffer anxiety and stress.”

Violence can happen at any time in the workplace.

The law on violence at work makes it a responsibility of all employees – and not just employers – to help prevent harm happening to anyone. In other words employees as well as employers can be held legally responsible for what happens in a workplace.

For further advice and commentary visit http://www.violenceatwork.co.uk

Is protection against violence adequate in your workplace?

You can normally sense straight away whether or not a workplace is vulnerable to violence. It is connected with self-assurance, efficiency and composure being exhibited in the course of the employment.

A positive image depends on each member of staff

  • Knowing how to recognise trouble early.
  • Being clear about what steps to take.
  • Feeling capable of taking those steps.
  • Feeling confident that the safety precautions will work.

Warning signs.

  • Employees of work with injury/stress.
  • Difficulty planning/achieving manning levels, unsuitable skills mix of staff on duty.
  • Poor working relations.
  • Difficulty recruiting quality staff.
  • Declining productivity.
  • Rising insurance costs and legal fees.

For further advice and commentary visit our partners at http://www.violenceatwork.co.uk

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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 news