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Violent at Work

Published by Safety Net Team

April 18, 2024

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines violence as any instance where an individual is subjected to abuse, threats, or assault within the context of their employment. This encompasses both verbal and physical forms of aggression, whether they occur in person, online, or over the phone. Verbal abuse emerges as the most prevalent form of such incidents.

Beyond the immediate physical injuries resulting from assault, persistent verbal abuse can induce significant psychological harm, including stress, depression, diminished morale, and heightened rates of absenteeism due to illness.

Similar to addressing other health and safety concerns, employers are obligated to pinpoint potential areas of concern, evaluate associated risks, and implement measures to effectively manage instances of violence within the workplace.

Employers’ Duties

  • Employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees and non-employees under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. This includes protecting them from the risk of violence.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to conduct an assessment of all the risks associated with their work activities. This would include exposure to potential or known aggressive and/or violent situations.
  • Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, employers must report acts of violence perpetrated at work which also fulfil the reporting criteria, ie which result in fatalities, major injuries, more than seven days off work, etc.
  • Employers must consult union safety representatives and employees about health and safety issues affecting staff under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, respectively. Exposure of employees to aggression and violence would be covered by these two sets of regulations.

Employees’ Duties

Under the , employees have a duty to ensure:

  • their own health and safety at work
  • that they do not adversely affect others through their work activities.

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