Work Related Voilence - Frequently asked questions
What is work-related violence?
The Health and Safety Executive defines work-related violence as:
'Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.'
- verbal abuse - shouting, swearing or insults, sexual harassment or other unwanted advances/behaviour, and racial abuse;
- threats and intimidation - from customers/patrons;
- physical violence - physical attacks including a slap, kicking, spitting or shoving as well as more extreme violence.
It can impact on your business in a number of ways including staff turnover and damage to your reputation and your staff's health and safety.
Violence and abuse can lead to work-related stress which can have serious and long-term impacts on physical and mental health. Each case of stress-related ill health leads to an average of 31 working days lost and therefore, again, has a major financial implication for the business.
Who should use this toolkit?
The information in the toolkit is likely to be particularly relevant to employers and managers in large businesses, franchises or chains, where a specific risk assessment for work-related violence may be needed. However, owners and managers in smaller businesses may find the information useful as part of a more general health and safety risk assessment process.
In all cases, the toolkit should be used flexibly, to assess the particular risks in your business and set in place sensible, proportionate controls.
Within the retail sector, the toolkit is relevant for all shops in high streets and shopping centres, and includes launderettes, betting offices and foreign currency exchanges. Licensed premises cover on and off sales of alcohol - such as pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, supermarkets convenience stores. Premises covered by a temporary event notice, and late night refreshment houses serving hot food and drinks between 11pm and 5am are also included.
The toolkit focuses on tackling work-related violence towards workers, but some of the control measures could also help to reduce the risk of violence to members of the public on your premises, and reduce the risk of crime against your business.
What should I be doing?
You are required by law to carry out a risk assessment. This will help you find out whether violence is a significant problem for your staff and your business, and, if so, how you can improve things. Your risk assessment will help you devise a violence policy as part of a wider health and safety policy for your organisation. This should set out how you intend to deal with violence and anti-social behaviour linked to your business, and who will be responsible for dealing with it.
As part of the risk assessment process you should speak to staff and safety representatives to get a better understanding of how work-related violence affects them, and how it can be tackled.
How will I know if I have done enough?
As a dutyholder, you have a legal responsibility to reduce the risk of violence occurring so far as is reasonably practicable - as you would for other health and safety risks.
In your risk assessment you need to be able to show that:
- you have thought about how you manage the risk of harm from work-related violence;
- you have considered who might be affected;
- you have looked at your existing control measures to ensure they are working effectively, and compared your approach to current good practice set out in the quick guide to control measures. Your measures should be sensible and proportionate to the particular risks in your business;
- you have involved your staff or their representatives in the process.
A health and safety inspector may want to discuss your risk assessment with you to review the control measures you have put in place, and can offer further advice if necessary.
Also remember that you will need to consider how the risks of violence to different groups of people are affected by equality legislation, such as the Disability Discrimination Act 2005.
What information is the toolkit based on?
The toolkit is based on a major review of good practice in the area of violence management with a focus on licensed and retail premises.
It also draws on the knowledge and expertise of HSE and local authority inspectors, businesses, the police, and relevant associations and representative bodies.