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Violence at Work

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 23 Jun 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Violence Abuse Health And Safety Verbal

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) define work-related violence as 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.' This includes verbal abuse and threats, as well as any form of physical abuse.

Those most at risk are employees who work with members of the public. However it is important to remember that violence can also be perpetrated by fellow employees.

Duties of employers

Employers have a responsibility to their employees to make sure that they are reasonable safe at work.

Often when considering this duty, employers consider the need for work premises and any machinery to be safe. Whilst these are important considerations, employers must also consider the risk posed by other people employees will meet during the course of their employment.

Higher risk jobs (e.g. workers in care homes for adults suffering from mental illness) would be expected to have specifically assessed this risk and have specific policies and procedures in place to try to reduce the risk of and prevent violent incidents occurring. All employees should be trained on these procedures. If you have concerns, speak to your employer.

It is important that these procedures are reviewed regularly. Any accidents or near misses should be reported to your employer so that they can review whether any amendments are needed.

First steps following an incident

  1. If an incident occurs, promptly report it to your manager. If they don't investigate the incident, make sure that you make notes of what happened, write down the names of any witnesses, and take photos of the area and any injuries
  2. If you wish to pursue the matter as a criminal offence, ask your employer to report it to the police. If they don't do so, you can call the police yourself. (For non-emergency calls, contact the police on 101.)
  3. If you have concerns about the incident being repeated, discuss ways to prevent this with your manager

Criminal action

If any violence (from a member of the public, customer or colleague) is committed against you, consider whether it is a criminal offence. Forms of violence which constitute a criminal offence may include:

  • Use of racially abusive language
  • Threats to kill
  • Physical violence (e.g. punching / kicking, especially if injury is caused)

You may want to consider a civil action against your employer in the form of an employment law claim or an injury claim:

1. Employment law claim

If an employer fails to prevent violence at work, and you have to leave your job as a result, this could constitute a breach of contract and may result in a constructive dismissal claim.

For example: Your employer knows that a fellow employee regularly threatens you and does not take action to prevent the abuse. You are unable to work in those conditions and quit your job. This could be constructive dismissal and you could be entitled to compensation.

Seek advice from an employment law specialist or your local Citizens Advice Bureau if you are considering making an employment claim.

2. Injury claim

If you are injured as a result of violence at work, you may be able to make an injury claim against your employer. Injuries may be physical (e.g. bruising / broken nose) or mental (e.g. a diagnosed psychological condition such as anxiety or PTSD).

Your employer is responsible for ensuring your reasonable safety at work. If they have not taken appropriate action to do so, they may be found to have acted negligently and so be responsible for your injury. Employers are responsible for the actions of other employees, even if criminal. Therefore if, for example, another employee assaults you at work, your employer will be liable to compensate you for any injury suffered as a result.

If you are considering this route, speak to an injury law specialist or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Work-place violence: Everybody's problem

As you will see from the above, violence at work is a serious issue for employers. Not only can work-place violence lead to injured employees requiring time off work, but employers may end up with civil claims against them.

Employees can be assured that the law is very much on their side in terms of ensuring their safety at work, which extends to protection from violence. If you have any concerns, speak to your employer and hopefully you can work together to prevent any incidents occurring. However if any incident does occur and you are not happy with your employer's response to it, remember that you have several legal options open to you in order to resolve the situation.

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I worked for my previous employer for 31 years and throughout my years of service I was physically and verbally abused by my boss. He would punch me to the arms, pull my ears and pinch my nipples. A's well as the physical abuse, here would verbally insult and humiliate me in front of my colleagues. I had to hand in my notice when he took on a young man who had a conviction for downloading vile images of children . That was my perfect excuse to leave as my eldest son and his wife lost their first child and I was disgusted with the fact that they would take on a paedophile. Since leaving the company I have had terrible recurring nightmares about my boss and am now taking antidepressants for depression.
Nobby - 23-Jun-20 @ 8:51 PM
I was working my job training a coworker as a security dispatcher at a refinery...3 weeks into traing my trainee was falling behind as usual taking nothing serious. I GUESS I SPOKE IN AN AUTHORITATIVE WAY AND HE RESPONDED "" you raise your voice to me again and I'm gonna bust you up"" ..As time went I could not work with this man and managments move was to have another worker between us as we relieved one another..Needless to say my stomach was in knots daily when we realieved one another,I had no idea what to expect( not knowing if I had to be ready to protect myself daiy) One day an alarm went off about an injured coworker and unlike myself I reacted tentatively ( being interacting with him was still on my mind) I fell short on one of my duties and was terminated..[ may I say that this has never happened on a job before and not knowing how my daily interaction would be always had me on edge] A few days later this man was removed from his position and i believe if it was done immediately after the threat my performance would have been on par not fearing to arrive for a fight would not be in my head...btw I am 61 and this individual is 30... As stated I was fired and since the first interaction I have lost weight become depressedand down on myself as I have never been. .......
rob - 21-Jun-20 @ 12:08 AM
Had what i thought was a reasonable discussion at work anyway the fella has ended up swearing his head off at me and walked off. Ive followed him into the warehouse and was assaulted with a 1ltr bottle of moto mix and headbutted. We was both sent home. Where do i stand in regards to compensation or criminal procedures
Brown - 13-May-20 @ 3:58 PM
I was to bullied at work more then three times verbal abuse gets to you its hurtful being screamed at shouted at for no reason there was one incident were I had the shop manager talk behind my back and really demeaned me publicly humiliated me in front of others she was much older then me I left my mental health and well being is more important then having a manager doing that to workers and or to staff. Bullying in the work force needs to be dealt with no one should ever bully and get away with it. No matter who you are manager or supervisor no one has got a right to be nasty and horrible towards anyone. It doesnt cost anything to be respectful and considerate towards others. I had another supervisor when I worked in a kitchen as a kitchen assistant volunteering work it was fine for few months but then someone made a commet at work it was the supervisor that made a horrible vile comment about the way I looked and my height it was deeply offensive rude commet this went on for few weeks it came across that she saw me as a threat the final straw was when she shouted abuse at me inside the kitchen in front of other workers and staff that was the final straw. I had to report her she was reported and I then I had to leave I wasnt going to let someone talk to me like that. I left and never looked back. She was reported to the manager nothing else was said or done I did what I had to do I reported her to the company that sent me there and I told them what she was like with me and that she made unprofessional commets causing great offence to me about my body weight and height I said I felt embarrassed and really humiliated it was bad enough saying it to me it was said in front of others to I felt small stupid and just myself esteem went my confidence went no one should ever make you feel in that way.
Lil - 13-May-20 @ 4:27 AM
A work collegue has been very abusive last couple of months and recently threatened to burn my van down flat etc ive been the one constantly walking away from confrontation...he's the type of person that will want a fight any chance he gets..iam too smart for it...bosses don't care I've mentioned a few times Iam having trouble...they won't do anything..so i have to resign to negate the negative situation 3 years I've been there last 5 months have been hell...i use to look forward to going to work but now its horrible any advice would be much appreciated
John - 25-Mar-20 @ 12:41 AM
I have assualted by an employee whe I was exercising my duties in my capacity. The official enter in my office rudely while I was with my colleague helping each other with work cases,and she grab my personal car keys and left with them. After a while, I went to her to the area where she was sitting begging my keys, she denied that she never took keys. I tell the official,she must not take bad advantage on me, she responded with a vulgar language. I send the official that she was sitting with her to ask my key. The official did not respond instead she signed down quietly. The official took my keys pack her bags and go through the entrance. I reported to securities that the official took my car keys and denied when I ask them. I ask them to search thoroughly all the people going out and in. The official wanted to go out refused to be searched. Ì went to the entrance to speak with her, while, I speak to her, she pushed me, I was wearing high heel shoes, I hold to her dress as I was scared to fall and get injured, her dress ripped off. She beat me and the securities came to separate her to me as she grab my dress. She refuse to be separated until my colleague came and hold her, and, I sustained injured. I went to my office. After a while my colleague came with my car keys. I ask one question to him, where do you find my keys? He responded that, from the officialbag. That was the most terrible pain i expirienced ever since i got employed. Got provoked and distracted.
Theo - 23-Mar-20 @ 7:27 AM
Hi a week ago a collegue came into my face very agressive shouting at me made me feel so scared i reacted and pushed him away he came back again screaming and shouting at me pushed me flying i walked away he followed still shouting at me wouldnt leave me alone he also swore at a manager and had a row before this on bus with another collegue i had meeting with area manager who has stated i aggrivated it and its my fault i should of allowed him to make me feel this way and my fault he swore at manager shes also said shes not happy he got suspended as hes a hardworker and does overtime so im feeling alone now and scared its going to hr there was a witness and wrote me a letter appologising he was wrong but that doesnt matter i feel because he can do overtime where i carnt as single mom i am now made to feel its all my fault i carnt sleep so emotional and dont no where to turn
Casper - 14-Mar-20 @ 7:21 PM
I have a metal plate in my head and was assulted at work. She slapped my head 4 times. After this was outside and she started swearing so i did after she did. I have only got two witnesses and she has new people who have started. They dont knowme so they are doing what she says. And knowthey are saying i couldbe in trouble for swearing.this is not right as she assaulted me and she starting swearing first. What do you think about this
Andy s - 23-Feb-20 @ 6:05 PM
An employee at one of our customers site loses his calm quite easily and takes it out verbally and passive aggressively. I was screamed at and abusive language was used at one such incident which I report to my Director and he did that he spoke to the customer and requested an apology and assurance that this would not happen again. However, last week when I was working with the same client again he started shouting and throwing his tools in a fit. As this incident happened more than once I was very upset and reported it to my manager and requested that I was not comfortable working form that customer. Just after a day later my manager managed to get me to agree to work in for the same customer (different person) again even after knowing what had happened, by claiming that I am an employee and I cannot choose I can and cannot work with. What should I do?
Mi - 8-Feb-20 @ 12:43 AM
I was verbally abused and threatened by a work colleague. I have raised a grievance but i have a feeling i will b looking for a new job. Is there anything i can do sk that ut proves hes in the wrong and it sld b him changing jobs not me. I have been so scared, tearful, feeling sick. Hes still has not been suspended even though there's CCTV evidence. What can i do
Jay - 2-Feb-20 @ 10:15 PM
My husband works for a company that travels across the uk, he was working away in Ireland when he was assaulted by a colleague he was sharing a hotel room with. This guy grabbed my husband by the throat and pinned him to the floor and punched him to the head. My husband didn't fight back and was left with a bump on his head and a headache lasting several hours. The owner of the business as been informed and hes rang and spoke with other member of the team and apparently because my husband had been watching tv load and didn't close the bathroom door this gives the guy the right to punch my husband to the head nothing else as been said and it appears ni further actions will be taken. This is not the 1st time my husband had to put a formal complaint a few months ago because of the constant bullying he receives. I'm at the end of my tether and wish he would just leave. Any advice welcome
Pheonix82 - 24-Jan-20 @ 4:14 PM
I was threatened w violence and verbally abused by an outer service provider during work hours on work premises. I pmed my employer straight after the event. My employer has now asked for me to attend a serious misconduct meeting as the manager on the day claimed I started the argument.. The service provider demanded money from me for a cash job he did for a friend of mine. It looks as tho I may lose my job. Concerned.
864gts - 26-Dec-19 @ 4:08 AM
Hi Iv had to Incidents work where a customer keeps coming in and threatening me wouldn’t leave I had to call the police so it’s been lodged. I went to my boss With a report of what happened and nothing . I don’t feel safe about going work as he can come in at any time . What do I do about this
Drew - 6-Dec-19 @ 3:37 PM
How do HM Revenue & Customs get away with bullying and harassing staff ?
Calling Out The Corr - 4-Dec-19 @ 12:33 PM
What about psychological bullying such as what I suffered for about a decade working for HM Revenue & Customs? A bullying manager sent her boyfriend round to intimidate when her bullying was near to being calkedout. I regret not reporting her harassment to the police, especially as I was bullied out as part of a wider bullying campaign (losing my health, career & home in the process). What made it even worse was HMRC management and HR covered it all up, causing even more harm to me and leaving me suicidal. Anyone else experienced the infamous HMRC bullying culture?
Anon - 2-Dec-19 @ 8:40 PM
a colleague had threaten to kill me, once i informed it to the Managing Director he said just drop it, ill have a chat with him. what should i do?
abdi - 21-Nov-19 @ 7:35 PM
A rift between a colleague and I had been brewing for a few weeks, I have tried to talk to the 3rd party but he flat refused to engage in conversation. As the situation started to affect the business and customers I brought it to the managers attention. I believe the manager spoke to the 3rd party in question but unsure what was said and or agreed, this was 5 days ago. Today an issue arose, whilst trying to sort it out with two of other colleagues he started singing and making silly immature comments about the situation. Once the problem had been rectified I asked a colleague what was all that about, him singing stupid things n that ? Unsaid that could cause a complaint to head office and could hurt us financially too, the 3rd party was in ear shot and shouted very aggressively if you have something to say, say it to my face or come here and I'll drop ya, ya c**t (apologies). He's a 6"4 20st rugby player with skin head and big beard, all told I was/am intimidated and don't know if I want to go to work tomorrow.
Mi77er - 13-Nov-19 @ 8:11 PM
I had two instances where I was in a similar situation. One situation happened in late March of 2019 and it was based on a coworker who went up to me and started yelling at me and getting in my face, literally, he almost kissed me, is how close he was. He cussed me out for no reason since I have not had problems with him. I let my manager and hr know if the incident and hr did not do anything about it and yet my manager told me I should consider leaving since she thinks and says she can’t do anything to apprehend my coworker. I quit because I felt like my self being was in danger. I tried to see if I could get any compensation from that because I didn’t expect it to come out of nowhere from the guy. Right now I have a manager who is subbing in as a manager and he told me once that he was gonna stab me and as I replied “excuse me” he says it again. He recently as of today meant a gesture as if he was going to hit me as I moved out of the way for him to walk by since we were both walking towards each other. He then turns around and noticed that I didn’t flinch and asked if I was grumpy. Me knowing that he just threatened to hit me physically answered “oh no it’s just morning so I’m a little serious” just to cool down the situation. He replied with “ it’s morning every morning” as in making fun of my remark. I faked a little smile to get him off my back. What can I do for any of these two situations. Probably knowing that the late March situation is a little too late but I don’t want my current situation to escalate more.
Reasons96 - 29-Oct-19 @ 9:31 PM
I had two instances where I was in a similar situation. One situation happened in late March of 2019 and it was based on a coworker who went up to me and started yelling at me and getting in my face, literally, he almost kissed me, is how close he was. He cussed me out for no reason since I have not had problems with him. I let my manager and hr know if the incident and hr did not do anything about it and yet my manager told me I should consider leaving since she thinks and says she can’t do anything to apprehend my coworker. I quit because I felt like my self being was in danger. I tried to see if I could get any compensation from that because I didn’t expect it to come out of nowhere from the guy. Right now I have a manager who is subbing in as a manager and he told me once that he was gonna stab me and as I replied “excuse me” he says it again. He recently as of today meant a gesture as if he was going to hit me as I moved out of the way for him to walk by since we were both walking towards each other. He then turns around and noticed that I didn’t flinch and asked if I was grumpy. Me knowing that he just threatened to hit me physically answered “oh no it’s just morning so I’m a little serious” just to cool down the situation. He replied with “ it’s morning every morning” as in making fun of my remark. I faked a little smile to get him off my back. What can I do for any of these two situations. Probably knowing that the late March situation is a little too late but I don’t want my current situation to escalate more.
Reasons96 - 28-Oct-19 @ 11:14 PM
I had two instances where I was in a similar situation. One situation happened in late March of 2019 and it was based on a coworker who went up to me and started yelling at me and getting in my face, literally, he almost kissed me, is how close he was. He cussed me out for no reason since I have not had problems with him. I let my manager and hr know if the incident and hr did not do anything about it and yet my manager told me I should consider leaving since she thinks and says she can’t do anything to apprehend my coworker. I quit because I felt like my self being was in danger. I tried to see if I could get any compensation from that because I didn’t expect it to come out of nowhere from the guy. Right now I have a manager who is subbing in as a manager and he told me once that he was gonna stab me and as I replied “excuse me” he says it again. He recently as of today meant a gesture as if he was going to hit me as I moved out of the way for him to walk by since we were both walking towards each other. He then turns around and noticed that I didn’t flinch and asked if I was grumpy. Me knowing that he just threatened to hit me physically answered “oh no it’s just morning so I’m a little serious” just to cool down the situation. He replied with “ it’s morning every morning” as in making fun of my remark. I faked a little smile to get him off my back. What can I do for any of these two situations. Probably knowing that the late March situation is a little too late but I don’t want my current situation to escalate more.
Reasons96 - 28-Oct-19 @ 8:25 PM
A work colleague has pushed his face in mine and poke his finger in my face plus verbally abuse me plus he is well known to take drugs
Paul - 18-Oct-19 @ 7:30 AM
5 days ago I was threatened by a fellow member of staff both verbally and physically ( pushing his chest against my own) .I instantly requested for this to be delt with formally This was reported to the on duty managers imidiattly and we where separated in the warehouse. 5 days later my manager has come to me asking if I would still like to peruse this formally . Should this not have been done closer to the incident??
Will - 15-Oct-19 @ 1:36 AM
A week ago a coworker who was stressed and upset verbally attacked me because i asked for my tables food repeatedly. This was done in front of fellow coworkers and loud enough for guest to hear. I immediately told the mod and said i would go home since i was distraught. I then returned wrote a statement and teturned a few fays later to speak with gm I have clearly expressed i do not feel comfortable working with this person. This employees mother is a manager at the same location. Do i have any rights?
Meme - 8-Oct-19 @ 9:06 PM
Last night in work a colleague grabbed me by the arm rather aggressively to stop me from doing something. This isn't the first incident we have had where before she has screamed in my face while holding her finger very closely to my face. I am pregnant and feel completely uncomfortable around this person and her erratic mood swings. I'm not sure what to do.
Liv - 8-Oct-19 @ 8:07 AM
I work with autistic and challenging behaviour some staff where I work don't do they are supposed to I reportedthings to our team leader as I thought they should know what's going on but now the other staff as found out and keep making remarks now nearly all the staff don't speak or help me at work starting to question me everything I do and when I finished my shift one staff shouted the through the door after I went out "in hate you" I don't know weather they were joking or not.
Baggie - 5-Oct-19 @ 11:53 PM
Where do I stand when an employer threatens to smack my face but no one is there to hear it.
Bingbongben - 1-Oct-19 @ 9:05 AM
I had a co-worker in another department assault me starting with flipping antifreeze jug at me getting antifreeze on my pants, possibly could have got on my eyes if I hadn't jumped back. Then the antifreeze jug was thrown at me after co-worker had emptied it. After this was done, co-worker flipped his knife out in a aggressive manner and put it to my chest with tip of the knife touching my chest. I reported it and management give the guy a week off w/o pay. I'm not satisfied with this, he should have been fired because he's a bully and I told Management this. Management wants me to talk to this guy so he can apologize and it's settled. This is still bothering me and the incident happened Jan 1st 2019. Is there anything else I can do legal wise, or take out assault with deadly weapon charge
DJ - 17-Sep-19 @ 1:18 AM
I have a question, what if you scared a work mate (surprise scare) and they responded by putting there hands around your neck and attempted to choke you??? Isn't that assault?
Chrisyb - 9-Sep-19 @ 4:05 AM
I have a question, what if you scared a work mate (surprise scare) and they responded by putting there's hands around your neck and attempt to choke you??? Isn't that assault?
Chrisyb - 9-Sep-19 @ 4:03 AM
Over the years I became friends with our insurance agent working for the NFUM. She left suddenly in the new year and there was a shutdown over why. I have been told today that an ex client had been threatening her for 2 years ,sending threats to her at home and finally a physical assault. At her own admission she was scared, she told her boss and was ignored. She thought they didn’t care. Consequently worry , sleepless nights, her work standard dropped, she made mistakes and suffered a complete stress induce breakdown. She has received no help from the mutual. As she was self employed, she has no rights, why is this.
Whocanshetalkto - 23-Aug-19 @ 7:53 AM
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