Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Challenging, aggressive and violent behaviours continue to be a growing problem. Before I started to write this blog, I had been reading an article which reported that staff working for Transport for London were abused approximately 250 times per month during Covid. These are the incidents we know about through reports. What about the incidents that have taken place and have gone unreported? Remember under-reporting of incidents across workplace settings remains a significant issue. For example, the 250 reported incidents per month could in reality be 375-500+ or more incidents!
An employer’s liability and responsibility are key issues related to their duties to protect the safety of their employees from work-related violence. Under the law, employers have a general duty under the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act 1974’, to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their employees whilst at work. Employers also have a duty under the ‘Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to consider the risks to their employees, including the foreseeable risk of violence. Employer liability and responsibility are key issues towards protecting employees against violence and aggression at work.
As well as physical and psychological harm caused to the victims of work-related violence, other important factors include absenteeism, unplanned costs of replacement staff, high staff turnover, low staff morale, poor organisational reputation, recruitment problems, etc. The costs of employing a new employee runs into thousands of pounds. Costs towards avoiding and preventing work-related violence and aggression are far less costly than the reactive cost responses.
Imagine during the period of your working shift pattern you are frequently aware of the number of items; furniture, fixtures, fittings and objects that could be used as adapted weapons against you, or people around you. Now imagine you are involved in a near-miss incident involving the perceptual thoughts (physiological and psychological reactions to the fact that you strongly felt that some item could have been used against you) but that you were lucky or fortunate not to have been harmed by one of those items.
Employees have an opportunity to directly influence and improve their own safety and that of the people they support. To achieve this employees must be empowered and encouraged to report all incidents where they have felt abused, threatened or assaulted at work. Upon receipt of incident reports, management has a duty to review and disseminate the outcome of their review which is likely to have an impact towards improved safety (through communications), training and/or new equipment!
What is the foreseeable risks of workplace violence faced by your colleagues?
Are those risks reflected through the incident reporting data collated?
Is the analysis from this data reflected during any training you received?
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