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Combating the risk of violence for your employees

If you ask most people what Health & Safety management in the workplace is we’re sure you’ll get plenty of responses mentioning slips and trips, falling at height and even some horror stories about machinery. In reality Health & Safety covers a broad range of risks with one of them being the risks associated with working alongside and in front of people.

Let’s face it, life is stressful and people are complex, so it’s safe to say at some point you’ll have interactions with customers, colleagues or members of the public whilst at work, who you don’t see eye to eye with. The challenge arises when these interactions become hostile and how to protect your employees.

The HSE defines work-related violence as ‘any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work’. Physical attacks are comparatively rare, compared to verbal abuse and threats, however as an employer you should have plans for both. boss yelling at subordinates

Firstly, keeping detailed records of any verbal/physical abuse or threats can be an extremely powerful tool. It allows you to identify any locations or specific contractors, sites or departments where your employees face higher risks of violence and allow you to combat this.

Once you are able to identify which employees are more at risk, risk assessments and arrangements can be conducted to help manage the risk of violence. Remember that these measures are put in place to protect your employees and allow them to perform better for your company.

When deciding on what arrangements to put in place it is worth considering that affecting the environment or putting physical measures in place, e.g. video cameras or alarms, can also reduce the risk or deter altercations. It may also lead to changes in the design of the job. Two examples are having site managers or drivers keep in touch regularly and preventing any lone working.

If the risk of violence is especially high then training for employees on spotting the signs of aggression and how to cope with or avoid aggression could be vital for allowing your employees to operate successfully and safely.

Ultimately any decisions made should protect your staff but also be suitable to fit in with your business needs; a happy employee is a more productive employee. To talk to our Health & Safety team about workplace violence or any other safety issues in your company call 01302 341 344.

Kris 2 HeadShotBy Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) Cert CII – Risk Services Adviser

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