The following steps are what employers should do in order to minimise the risk of injury to their staff from violence at work, taken from the guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

assault at work- employer advice

Step 1 – Discover if there is a problem

Every employer should assess the hazards relevant to their organisation, compiling a risk assessment.  To undertake the risk assessment correctly, the employer should engage with its employees to discover if there is a problem in relation to violence at work.  Often, the employer is unaware of the threat of violence which its employees face until such time as they start asking the questions.

If there are safety representatives and/or trade union officials, they should also be spoken to when compiling the risk assessment.  Short questionnaires to employees may elicit useful information as to potential risks.  These surveys could be conducted online using a product such as Survey Monkey.

Once the information is in, a prudent employer ought to disclose the information to its staff and seek feedback.

A prudent employer ought to record all incidents of violence – whether these are verbal threats or actual attacks – recording precisely what happened, to whom, by whom, where and details of any injuries sustained.  A prudent employer ought to encourage their staff to report all incidents of violence.

When analysing the information, the employer ought to look for patterns such as time, location, and whether a particular member of staff is frequently targeted.  Then, when armed with all relevant information, the employer should produce a detailed risk assessment and then act upon that assessment.

Step 2 – Take decisive action

The employer ought to reduce the risk of violence to the lowest possible limit, even if that means considering closing a particular operation if the risk to staff is too high.  If the risks can be controlled, the employer must consider the training provided to its staff, the environment, as well as staffing numbers.  Staff must also be provided with full information concerning the likely risk of violence whilst undertaking their duties.

De-escalation training, which is being taught how to spot the signs of violence and act on that information, is a form of training which should, at the very least, be given to members of staff who are in any way at risk of suffering from violence.

CCTV and alarm systems may also reduce the likelihood of a violent incident occurring.  Additional security measures on doors, particularly in sectors in which staff are handling large volumes of cash, ought to be considered.  In fact, the employer may wish to encourage customers to pay by credit or debit card rather than in cash.

If members of staff are working alone, the employer should have systems in place to ensure that they know where their employee will be and any risks to that employee when away from their usual workplace.  In fact, the employer ought to have a lone-working policy for such eventualities and may also wish to provide staff with panic alarms as well as self-defence training.

If employees are working at night and/or in dangerous locations, the employer should consider how their employees will get home at the end of a shift.

Step 3 – Assess arrangements

Given that an incident of violence in a workplace is a major event which may lead to significant injuries to a member of staff, it is imperative that the employer keeps talking to its staff and revising its policies if necessary.  If violence at work remains a major problem, the employer may wish to reassess its procedures and perhaps consider engaging external health and safety consultants with a specialist interest in reducing assaults at work.

The victims

Frequently, employers do not know what to do when an employee has been the victim of a violent incident at work.  In some sectors, particularly in mental health trusts, where violence is more prevalent, there are usually protocols in place for following up with an injured member of staff to make sure that they are OK and to ensure that the incident does not happen again.  However, in some sectors where violence at work is a rare event, employers frequently fail to remain engaged with the victim, often leaving the matter to the police.  A prudent employer should always take detailed notes about what has happened directly from the victim and any witnesses.  This evidence-gathering process should ideally occur as close to the occurrence of the event as is possible.  Frequently an employee who is the victim of an attack at work will require time off.  A prudent employer ought to, but does not always, pay full pay in the event of an absence caused by violence. Many employees resign following an assault at work usually because they feel that their employer doesn’t care about them.

A prudent employer should assist and support members of staff throughout the long and complicated criminal process.

Truth Legal – Assault at Work Solicitors

Although we at Truth Legal are a claimant firm of solicitors and specialise in violence-at-work compensation claims, if you are an employer, we may be able to find appropriate resources to enable you to reduce to the lowest possible level the risk of your staff being injured.

If you are an employee who has suffered injury, either physical or psychological, as a result of an attack at work, please contact one of our specialist assault-at-work solicitors for a free, no-obligation consultation.  With a head office in Harrogate and unmanned offices in York, Manchester and London, wherever possible we prefer to arrange face-to-face meetings with our clients and potential clients.

Please contact us today for more information.

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Catherine Reynolds
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