Violence at work
Statistics have been collated from government sources to show the present risk of violence in the workplace. What do the figures show, and if your staff are at risk, what control measures should you put in place?
Work-related violence statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales 2017/18 have been published by the HSE (see the next step). This incorporates results from the official Crime and Labour Force surveys, as well as reports received by the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.
Results show that there were an estimated 694,000 incidents of violence at work. This total includes 330,000 assaults and 364,000 incidents of threatening behaviour. It is concerning to see that the figures are higher than in 2016/17 when the estimated total number was 642,000.
41% of working adults who were affected by violence at work sustained a physical injury. Of the injuries inflicted, the majority of them (70%) were either minor bruises or black eyes.
Who is most at risk?
Figures show that those working in certain job roles are more at risk than others. Those most at risk work in protective service occupations e.g. police and prison officers. 11.4% of personnel in these roles were on the receiving end of verbal or physical violence compared with the average for all occupations at just 1.4%.
A surprising finding is that the percentage of men and women suffering from threats of violence or assault was about the same. The report identifies that 1.5% of men and 1.4% of women were the victims of violence at least once in the year before they were interviewed.
Who or what is to blame?
In 54% of the incidents the offender was unknown to the victim. In the remaining instances the perpetrator was most likely a colleague, client or member of the public whom the victim knew through work.
The role of alcohol and drugs seems to be a significant factor in the rise in violence. 32% of victims said that alcohol played a part in the incident, while 27% of events involved perpetrators under the influence of drugs, double the number of the previous year.
Tip 1. If your staff are at risk, e.g. because they work around intoxicated members of the public, or through their work in a public service role, identify the potential sources of violence and consider what can be done to reduce the number of incidents or increase protection for staff.
Tip 2. Consider how you can best avoid the situations from arising in the first place, e.g. by improving workplace design, changing procedures so that customers are less frustrated, double-manning etc.
Tip 3. Train your staff to appropriately deal with threats of violence in the workplace. Ensure that they know they will have your support if they refuse service or walk away from the situation.