Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
The aim of this stage is to think about how you can manage the risks of harm from work-related violence. That can mean avoiding a particular hazard altogether, reducing the likelihood or finding ways to make any harm that does occur less serious. You need to make sure that you have reduced risks 'so far as is reasonably practicable'.
The risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by hazards identified in step 1, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be. A risk factor is something that can increase the chance of the hazard occurring.
At this stage of your risk assessment you need to establish whether there is a significant risk of violence in your business. You can do this in a number of ways, but perhaps the easiest way initially is to speak to your staff and safety representatives about their experiences. You can also look at sickness absence figures, staff turnover, injury and illness records (particularly incidents of work-related violence), stock losses and police records. Your local police force may be prepared to release crime data for your business to help you establish how you need to tackle violence and crime in your premises. RIDDOR reports can also be a useful source of information, and crime mapping can help you decide where best to target your activities.
Evaluate the risks
Licensed and retail business have, by the very nature of their business, factors which can increase the likelihood of violence occurring. These include:
- handling large amounts of money or exchanging money;
- your staff having face-to-face contact with customers;
- opening in the evening or late at night;
- dealing with customer complaints or disputes. Dealing with angry customers in disputes/complaints, eg over goods, services and refunds, allegations of short changing or cash mistakes or non-authorisation of card purchases can trigger customer embarrassment and violence.
Your business may also have specific risk factors that are associated with a higher risk of violence:
- You have lone workers or small numbers of staff.
- You sell or guard high-value goods. Items may include medications, expensive merchandise or alcohol/tobacco.
- You sell age-restricted goods. Refusing to serve customers who are underage or are without ID, or refusing to sell alcohol after licensing hours or to those who are intoxicated, can also trigger violence.
- Your staff are under pressure. Exceptional workloads, inadequate stocks or staff shortages may slow employee performance and lead to delays, queues and customer impatience and hostility.
- Your customers have a history of violence or are likely to be under the influence of drink or drugs.
- Your premises are in a high-crime area. Businesses with previous experience of robbery, assaults or threats are more at risk of repeat incidents.
- Your business is quite isolated or you do not have many customers.
- Your premises have easy access/escape routes.
- Your business's layout/lighting is poor. For example, tills are located near doors or there is poor visibility from outside the shop to inside.
- You do not have any (obvious) security measures, which may suggest to potential assailants or criminals there is low risk of detection and minimum protection.
Decide on precautions
The next step is to decide whether there is anything more you can do. Have you reduced the risks 'so far as is reasonably practicable'? To do this you do this you will need to:
- Look at your existing controls to ensure they are working effectively and as intended.
- Consult your staff about their ideas. Employees have practical experience and insight into their workplace and therefore are a good source of information and ideas. Involving your staff will also encourage them to adopt and own the arrangements you put in place. You should include your employees by getting them to:
- participate in developing and devising procedures to minimise violence risk;
- participate in the evaluation of any control measures;
- share on-the-job experiences to help other employees recognise and respond to violence.
- Compare yourself to current good practice, which is included in the Quick guide to control measures.
- Identify any further control measures necessary to reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.
You now need to go to Step 4 - Record your findings and implement them.