3. Assessing the risks

As an employer, you must carry out a risk assessment to identify significant risks to your workers and implement effective control measures. This includes how to prevent and manage violence.

You must consult your workers and their representatives on health and safety.

A risk assessment alone will not reduce the occurrence of work-related violence, but the actions you take following on from it should.

Identify hazards

The first step in your risk assessment is to identify the hazards. A hazard is anything that can cause harm to people.

This can include both verbal and online abuse, and physical assault to your workers.

There are number of ways to identify your hazards, but here are some tips:

  • ask your workers about their experiences and what they think – this can be done through supervisors, managers or safety representatives, or through a survey
  • look around at your workplace, including how people work and their working environment
  • look back at your incident records on work-related violence
  • there may be a known pattern of violence linked to certain work situations (professional organisations and trade unions may have useful information)

Assess the risks

Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that a worker could be harmed and how serious it could be. Think about whether there are any workers at different or additional risk.

For example, lone workers may be at greater risk due to the lack of nearby support to help prevent an incident or help if things go wrong.

New starters, trainees and other vulnerable workers are also often at greater risk.

Decide how to control the risks

Look at what you're already doing, and the controls you have in place. Ask yourself:

  • can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
  • if not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

Make sure you ask your workers for their ideas and feedback.

Once you decide on your controls, you must record your findings and periodically review your risk assessment.

There are examples of risks assessments covering typical workplaces and a template to help you complete your own.

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