Violent Behaviour in the Workplace

Violence in the workplace is an unfortunately common problem that affected more than 640,000 people in 2012. Violent behaviour including threats, verbal abuse and even attacks are all common and although statistics point that only 1.4% of men and women will ever be affected, the statistics are still shockingly high. In fact, there are more than 200,000 work related assaults each year, with threats of physical violence and verbal abuse or bullying being much more common. As an employer, it is your responsibility to take steps to reduce violent behaviour in the workplace by providing education and training and taking steps to prevent aggressors from repeating their behaviour through appropriate discipline. Training can be attained to help with conflict resolution, stress management and awareness training to help prevent violence in the workplace.

Mitigating Violence at Work

There are a number of steps that employers can take to reduce at-work violence including recognising stress and violence factors, creating plans of action, disciplining violent employees, and increasing safety and security measures. The HSE recommends that employers take the steps to recognise potentially violent individuals, recognise stress factors that could cause violence, and if they suspect employee violence, create awareness programs, offer training and potentially put up surveillance in order to recognise violence. Because only 40% of workplace violence is caused between people who know each other, it is also the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment to reduce violence caused by strangers and customers. For this reason, it is especially important to provide amenities such as locking or coded doors, well-lit hallways and parking lots, and security cameras in dangerous areas. Some employers also choose to take action by offering self-defence courses to employees in dangerous areas, although this is not mandatory.

Is Violence In the Workplace My Responsibility?

While violence in the workplace is most often not the direct result of employer action, it is still in your best interest, and it is your moral obligation, to help reduce it. Physically threatened, bullied and injured employees suffer mental and physical health issues which affect your legal duties as an employer. According to the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 it is your duty to do all that you can to provide for the mental and physical health of those in your employ, especially if you have five or more employees. In this case, that means working to reduce violence in the workplace by taking appropriate steps to recognise, reduce, and prevent violence. Talking to victims, guiding employees, offering legal support if necessary and offering time off from work after an attack is also an important part of taking responsibility for violence.

Relevant Training and Info

A number of training courses are available to help reduce violence at work through conflict resolution, stress management, recognition of violence and wellbeing. Courses are available to any industry in need of violence safety training although we provide individual quotes for each industry. In addition, employers are legally responsible for discussing what is and what is not violence, discussing what will and will not be tolerated and discussing repercussions of violent behaviour with their employees. Because this information varies according to the employer, it is not covered in training courses.