Legal duties and obligations around work-related violence
As well as the moral duty of employers to protect employees and members of the public, General Health and Safety Legislation covers all employers and workplaces. This includes carrying out a risk assessment for work, to assess and control the risks to employees from violence and aggression.
To risk assess for work-related violence:
- Think ahead and consider situations where violence and aggression could arise
- Consider who might be harmed and how. In particular, consider those working alone or those carrying out home visits. Are they in regular contact with the office? Can they call for help if problems arise? Do you have additional procedures for new clients/customers?
- Evaluate the risk
- Modify jobs and tasks to remove or lessen the risk of violence. For example, could the first meeting with a client be held in a public place?
- Record your risk assessment and inform staff of your procedures and controls
- Check what you have done by monitoring and reviewing your assessment regularly.
Supporting victims of work-related violence
Any violent incident involving the workforce needs a quick response to avoid unnecessary distress:
- A plan should be evolved to consider what should be done
- Think about debriefing, but remember, victims have different responses to violence and may not wish to talk immediately after the incident
- Specialist counselling may be required
- Persons who have witnessed an incident may also require support
- There may be a requirement to have time off work to recover from an incident as people recover over differing amounts of time
- In serious cases, legal help may be appropriate
- Other employees and witnesses may need guidance or further training to help them react appropriately in the future.