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Risk assessment for work-related violence

A risk assessment is a careful examination of what could cause harm to people in connection with your business - it's a practical exercise aimed at getting the right control measures in place. A risk assessment alone will not reduce the occurrence of work-related violence, but the actions you take following on from it should do. Your risk assessment will help you develop policies and procedures on work-related violence as part of a wider health and safety policy for your organisation.

In all cases you should involve your staff or their representatives in the process. Not only is this a legal requirement, but they will almost certainly have useful information about how the work is done that will make your assessment more effective and realistic. But remember, the employer is responsible for ensuring that the assessment is carried out properly.

Step 1: Identify the hazards

Gather information about the hazards in your workplace. For violence, it's also helpful to think in terms of risk factors at the same time.

A hazard is something that can cause harm: in this case violence at work. Risk factors are aspects of your work that make violence more likely. There are a number of ways you can gather this information.

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Step 2: Who might be harmed and how?

Work out whether and how violence, or the fear of violence, could affect staff in your workplace.

Think about whether there are any special groups of staff at different or additional risk, eg lone workers, trainees etc.

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Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Work out what you are already doing, whether your control measures are working properly and if there is anything else you need to do.

You need to identify potential control measures. Make sure you ask your staff for their ideas and feedback. You need to reduce the risks as far as reasonable practicable. Look at the quick guide to control measures for ideas.

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Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

You need to decide who is responsible for any actions in your risk assessment, and record when your risk assessment was done.
You need to keep a record of your significant findings if you employ more than five people. Your local authority health and safety inspector may ask to see your risk assessment in order to assess the control measures you have put in place.

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Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

You should review your risk assessment regularly in case the hazard, risk factors or control measures needed have changed.

You also need to review the effectiveness of any control measures in place by asking staff and monitoring incident rates. This will make sure the measures are being used properly and are effective.

Updated 2013-12-12