Violence towards staff can have a direct effect on their health and safety. It can also affect their standards of work, performance, confidence, morale as well as that of their colleagues.
Staff in roles most at risk are those who:
- give a service;
- are carers;
- in education;
- involved in cash transactions;
- make deliveries / collections;
- exhibit controlling behaviour towards others;
- represent authority.
Violence to staff is defined as incidents where they are abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. This includes:
- verbal abuse;
- offensive language;
- discriminatory or derogatory remarks, for example those which are racist, sexist or homophobic in nature;
- obscene gestures;
- threatening behaviour;
- physical attacks;
- spitting; and
- throwing objects.
Managers and staff have a responsibility to abide by the policies and procedures of the service to both limit violent incidents and respond to them appropriately, in order to protect themselves and their colleagues.
2. Assessing Risk from Violence and Aggression
The main factors that can create risk are:
- mental health disorders;
- drink, drugs or inherent aggression.
2.1 Violence risk assessments – managers responsibilities
When carrying out a potential violence risk assessment, the following factors should be considered.
In the workplace:
- the nature of the work activities;
- the working conditions;
- the design of the work activities and surrounding environment;
- the frequency of situations that present a risk of workplace violence;
- the severity of the potential consequences to the member of staff who may be exposed to a risk;
- information on workplace violence based on historical evidence and accurate information;
- the measures already in place to prevent workplace violence.
The wider working environment:
- a description of the department or area the manager or supervisor is in
- any history of violence in the department / service area;
- activities in the department / service area that could expose workers to
- circumstances that might increase the risk of violence in the department /
- service area;
- measures in place to address violence and the resources needed to
2.2 Violence risk assessments – individual cases
Every adult who has a history of aggression / violence must have a care plan risk assessment which identifies the risks and states the actions to be taken to minimise these risks.
This should include family or friends who have such a known history, even if the adult themselves does not present a risk.
See Record Keeping.
It is crucial for the safety and wellbeing of staff, adults and the protection of the organisation and wider community that risk assessments are fully documented. This includes clearly documented management oversight and decision making.
3. Management Responsibilities
Managers must assess the risk of both physical and non-physical assault to staff and take appropriate action to deal with it.
These steps may include:
- providing suitable training and information;
- improving the design of the working environment (such as physical security measures);
- making changes to aspects of staff roles;
- following the escalation policy of the organisation including reporting high risk cases of potential risk of violence and all incidents of actual physical and non-physical assault so that preventative action can be taken to ensure it is not repeated.
This will also help managers to check for patterns and so help predict the types of incidents that could occur.
Findings from all risk assessments should be communicated to all staff as appropriate, and arrangements need to be put in place to monitor and review such assessments.
Mechanisms should be in place to share learning with staff and across the service.