Advice for workers on violence in the workplace

What your employer should do to protect you

Your employer has specific duties to protect you from work-related violence and aggression. This includes verbal abuse as well as physical attacks.

This also applies if you're working for them as a contractor, a freelancer or are self-employed.

Our guidance for employers on violence includes information on:

  • preventing incidents
  • providing you with training
  • what incidents to report and record

There is also advice on how employers should support you after an incident.

You may be at greater risk if you are a lone worker due to the lack of nearby support to help if things go wrong.

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

What you can do to prevent violence at work

As a worker, there are things you can do to avoid violence at work. You should:

  • cooperate with your employer and co-workers to help everyone meet their duties under the law
  • take care of your own health and safety, and that of others who may be harmed by your actions at work
  • use the information and training your employer has provided to help you prevent incidents or know how to calm things down to avoid incidents escalating
  • tell your employer about any incidents of violence or aggression so they can support you and improve health and safety

Find out if health and safety law applies to you if you're self-employed.

Examples of how to prevent violence

You can find examples of solutions to prevent violence for different types of workplaces and industries. They include practical actions employers and workers can take to reduce the risks.

What you can do if an incident occurs

If you have experienced violence in connection with your work activity, you should report this to your employer.

Violence and aggression can impact your physical and mental health, and increase stress, particularly in the case of serious or persistent verbal abuse or threats.

There is guidance on work-related stress and mental health.

Your employer may offer confidential counselling services or there are charities that can offer you support, such as Victim Support.

How to raise any concerns

If you're concerned about violence and aggression risks to you, talk to:

  • your employer
  • a manager or supervisor
  • your trade union or health and safety representative

If after doing this you are still concerned about your safety, you can contact HSE.

Find out more

You can find helpful advice from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) on discrimination, bullying and harassment at work.

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