Managing the risk in smaller businesses

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Work-related violence has serious consequences for employees and the businesses they work for. Victims may suffer not only physical injury, but also psychological effects, such as anxiety and stress. For their employers this can represent a real financial cost - through low staff morale and high staff turnover. This in turn can affect the confidence of a business, its profitability and even its viability. Further costs may arise from expensive insurance premiums and compensation payments.

These case studies show that many owners and managers of smaller businesses manage the risk of violence very successfully. They have reduced the potential for violence and increased their ability to deal with difficult situations. The business is therefore likely to be more efficient, profitable and able to recruit and retain high quality employees.

Aim of case studies

These case studies are mainly for owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses, but should also interest employees and safety representatives. They offer real and practical examples of how some businesses have reduced the risk of violence using simple and cost-effective measures.

The case studies come from HSE's publication Work-related violence: Managing the risk in smaller businesses HSG229 2002 HSE books ISBN 0 7176 2358 0. This is a 36-page booklet which contains further details and background about the sectors and businesses, as well as examples of real incidents faced by workers. You can buy this booklet from HSE books priced £9.50

Legal requirements

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places a legal duty on all employers to ensure so far as legally practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This duty extends to risks from violence at work.

HSE guidance

HSE encourages employers to manage work-related violence in the same way as any other health and safety issue. To help employers do this HSE has published free general guidance, Violence at work: A guide for employers, which gives practical advice on how to find out if violence to staff is a problem, and how to tackle it. The guidance sets out four simple steps to the effective management of work-related violence - Find out if you have a problem: Decide what action to take; Take action; Review action. This guidance also includes further details on what the law requires. See leaflet INDG69 Violence at work: a guide for employers.

Updated 2022-10-17