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Violence at Work

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 29 Apr 2017 | 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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While working away from home i was attacked as i slept in my bed by a fellow employee and the attacker is now waiting trial for serious assault with permanent disfigurement. The house is provided by my previous employer. What duty of care do they have in this situation as i cant find anything on the web about workers being attacked while in accommodation provided by employers. I'm inquiring as i am now in the process of a constructive unfair dismissal case as my employer did not care about what had happened to me and had no communication for 5 weeks which promoted my resignation. Since then my ex boss re-employed my attacker, proving just how little he cared about what happened to me. Any advice is greatly appreciated as i need to get this seen to ASAP Thank you
Anon - 29-Apr-17 @ 2:44 PM
Hi someone threatened to stab me at work on tuesday police were called the lad was barred and told by police to stay away from the shop i work in since then the manager has let the lad in because he is too scared to uphold the barring what can i do and what rights do i have
Shaz - 28-Apr-17 @ 1:15 PM
Hi l was a support worker dealing with clients with learning disability, autistic spectrum, pyschotic disorder's. I was assulted in the work place by my client with pyschotic disorder, l was left on my own with the client while he had a pair of scissors while the other service users were taken out of the house with their support workers, then locked me in for two hours. The client left me for dead and went down stairs, l stayed where l was incase he came back up to finish me off, he did come back up stairs to pull away the things that he had thrown at me then he went back down stairs. I was then able to use my key to let myself out. The police and ambulance arrived the client was arrested and l was checked over by the paramedic my blood pressure was sky high so they stayed for an hour until my peessure had gone back to normal. The police asked why did l not use the panic alarm, l told them we didnt have any my manager said we didnt need them,whilst on sick l was sacked.
Lady D - 21-Apr-17 @ 3:00 PM
There are so many things wrong with the company that I used to work for; my partner still works there and I believe he has been placed under such stress stemming back to one incident that it is affecting his mental and physical health! But he won't complain any further as he thinks he'll lose his job. The incident happened in August, another employee (let's call him John) who had frequently made his negative feelings about my partner known to him at work, ran into us outside of work. Johns partner is actually his and my partners team leader. My partner saw her and gave her a hug. John came out of nowhere and gripped my partner by the collar, screaming in his face. My partner had had a couple of beers (3 in total) but still did not react and managed to talk john down after a long time and calm him. John is known for being threatening to people and other complaints have been raised against him at work. My partner felt he could not work with john after this incident and told HR about the incident. He said he felt unsafe when leaving work late at night as john is a violent person. HR investigated, the three other people that were there told them what happened but I feel probably not in full detail as everyone's fears saying something against the team leaders partner. Anyway, HR implied to my partner that perhaps it was his fault because he had been drinking (though it was not instigated nor escalated by my partner) they even suggested he take two weeks off and implied maybe he use the time to look for another job!! John has since been promoted though he is known for his negligence. He walks behind my partners desk in a threatening manner and generally is rude about him for comolaining to HR and makes it known! So does the team leader and the manager is very close with the TL! My partner is expected to work in this environment and as a consequence nearly lost his job because of taking time off. I believe he is depressed. Is there anything at all that can be done, when right up the line to management and even HR are taking the side of John? What codes of conduct are being breached here, where does he turn?
Sam - 7-Mar-17 @ 12:22 PM
There are so many things wrong with the company that I used to work for; my partner still works there and I believe he has been placed under such stress stemming back to one incident that it is affecting his mental and physical health! But he won't complain any further as he thinks he'll lose his job. The incident happened in August, another employee (let's call him John) who had frequently made his negative feelings about my partner known to him at work, ran into us outside of work. Johns partner is actually his and my partners team leader. My partner saw her and gave her a hug. John came out of nowhere and gripped my partner by the collar, screaming in his face. My partner had had a couple of beers (3 in total) but still did not react and managed to talk john down after a long time and calm him. John is known for being threatening to people and other complaints have been raised against him at work. My partner felt he could not work with john after this incident and told HR about the incident. He said he felt unsafe when leaving work late at night as john is a violent person. HR investigated, the three other people that were there told them what happened but I feel probably not in full detail as everyone's fears saying something against the team leaders partner. Anyway, HR implied to my partner that perhaps it was his fault because he had been drinking (though it was not instigated nor escalated by my partner) they even suggested he take two weeks off and implied maybe he use the time to look for another job!! John has since been promoted though he is known for his negligence. He walks behind my partners desk in a threatening manner and generally is rude about him for comolaining to HR and makes it known! So does the team leader and the manager is very close with the TL! My partner is expected to work in this environment and as a consequence nearly lost his job because of taking time off. I believe he is depressed. Is there anything at all that can be done, when right up the line to management and even HR are taking the side of John? What codes of conduct are being breached here, where does he turn?
Sam - 6-Mar-17 @ 10:13 PM
My supervisor slapped me in the face with no provocation. I was shocked and said why have you done that and she was telling me to slap her back I hit her back on the arm and she immediately slapped me in the Face again. 3 witnesses where there and are saying they didn't see the whole thing just that I had been slapped but it was a joke. Now my supervisor has said I hit her first which isn't true. One witness said they entered the kitchen as I was being slapped but the time difference on the cameras show this isn't feasible. My managers have investigated and yet to make a decision but have said that they can only go on the statements made. I am being lied about and the supervisor has already told other people in work that I hit her first. I have taken two weeks off sick with stress. What can I do? I feel helpless
Linz - 4-Mar-17 @ 12:13 AM
Sky - Your Question:
My manager was in my face yelling at me because I wasn't "hurrying fast enough" to go clean a fuel spill and this carried on all the way from the back of the store and continued in the front of the store outside and there she shoved me really hard on the back. I told her don't ever put your hands on me again. I later quit my job due to not wanting to be treated like that. Can I sue her and/or that company for her actions??

Our Response:
You would need to seek legal advice about whether to sue. You should have made a formal complaint to your employer befoer simply handing in your notice. Depending on how long you've been at the company you may have a case for constructive dismissal or similar. It may be worth give ACAS a call or trying to get a free half hour initial consultation with an employment solicitor.
SafeWorkers - 1-Mar-17 @ 12:30 PM
My manager was in my face yelling at me because I wasn't "hurrying fast enough" to go clean a fuel spill and this carried on all the way from the back of the store and continued in the front of the store outside and there she shoved me really hard on the back. I told her don't ever put your hands on me again. I later quit my job due to not wanting to be treated like that.Can I sue her and/or that company for her actions??
Sky - 27-Feb-17 @ 5:59 PM
I worked in hotel as a night porter. I heard strange noises and I went to check. The guy was standing with mask and break window to enter to hotel. He attacked me, basically I defend myself, but then he saw that he is not succsesful he took a knive and put to ny leg twice. He stole money hotel money, but this is not the case. I am wondering, because I was assaulted at work can I get compensasion. I break my two fingers then I was trying to defend myself and I was hitted twice with a knive to my leg. What are option in this situation? Police didnt found guilty so is emplyer responsible? thank you
darus - 22-Feb-17 @ 10:30 PM
Elle - Your Question:
I work in a restbite home and was attacked by a male guest and it took 2 support workers to get him off me. I was told it was not a police matter as I was not a vunrable adult, I ask for him to be removed from the home as he is violent and will seriously hurt someone as he has attacked his parents and someone at college and that I fear for my safety and that of others and don't want to go back till he has gone for good were do I stand on this matter

Our Response:
Make a formal complaint to your employer if you feel that the risk reduction and safety measures in place are not sufficient.
SafeWorkers - 13-Feb-17 @ 2:41 PM
I work in a restbite home and was attacked by a male guest and it took 2 support workers to get him off me. I was told it was not a police matter as I was not a vunrable adult, I ask for him to be removed from the home as he is violent and will seriously hurt someone as he has attacked his parents and someone at college and that I fear for my safety and that of others and don't want to go back till he has gone for good were do I stand on this matter
Elle - 12-Feb-17 @ 2:59 PM
Im a new manager of a new restaueant where I have to hire capable candidates from the very beginning to support the business. One employee has slowly showing signs of violence and have verbally assaulted other employees due to language barriers and misunderstanding without bringing up the issues to us before hand. (He thinks his colleagues are using foreign language to segregate him from the group). Ive sat down with him before to discuss how to better deal with such issues. And recently he has been really terrible where he shouted and swore at me for asking a question. He threw a water bottle that knocked down two equipments at work and verbally cursing the management including myself. We have an argument where he was just being unreasonable where he kept mentioning he was always the one being targeted for bad conducts, he then yelled that he had ADHD and said that I wasn't being understanding. He threw a tantrums, swore and acted violently in front of me and other 3 employees. I have no experience of how to deal with employees like him and I'm afraid keeping him longer would cause harm to my other employees and tarnish the business reputation. On a side note, he also mentioned he has a criminal record of punching a policemen when he was a youngster. Please help.
Jay - 16-Jan-17 @ 10:22 PM
Dekelby- Your Question:
I have personal issues with a work colleague , this is now continuing in the workplace where on 2 occasions this week he has been verbally abusive threatening and banging on my car window most of which was witnessed by other employees Should he be suspended ?

Our Response:
Report this to your employer, they should investigate and take action, which may be a suspension but could be a warning.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jan-17 @ 10:43 AM
I have personal issues with a work colleague , this is now continuing in the workplace where on 2 occasions this week he has been verbally abusive threatening and banging on my car window most of which was witnessed by other employees Should he be suspended ?
Dekelby - 4-Jan-17 @ 8:37 AM
My manager was shouting at me today and started to swear at me, I swore back telling him not to speak to me like that (I'm pregnant and hormonal I know it was wrong) and he said 'if you speak to me like that again I will break your face' this man is 50+ threatening a 20 yr old. This isn't the first time he was spoke to me in this manor and I want to take it further.
Shaniex - 27-Dec-16 @ 10:10 PM
steve - Your Question:
I am a supermarket store manager. I was accompanying our security guard with a shoplifter to my office when he suddenly became violent. This was inside the store, by customers, and was captured on CCTV. During the course of helping the guard restrain him, I broke a finger in 3 places, tore off a tendon and now need surgery within the next week. The specialist has signed me off until the end of January in the first instance. My right hand will be in plaster for a month and then will need a further month to mend. My situation is compounded by the fact that I am currently working my 1 month notice (until Dec. 29th) and am supposed to be starting as a store manager for a different supermarket on Jan. 9th.Normally I would receive full pay whilst off sick. Who is responsible for paying this in my situation? Does it sound like I should pursue a case for Compensation for Injury as well? Any advice would be great. Thanks.

Our Response:
Discuss this with your employer. You will be entitled to SSP while you're in work but not once you've finished. Equally if your employer offers company sick pay it will only be payable whilst you're in their employ (and depending on any other conditions of the policy). To cover the time while you're unable to work and not being paid, it would be worth seeking compensation from your employer and it's worth seeking professional legal advice on this.
SafeWorkers - 22-Dec-16 @ 12:22 PM
I am a supermarket store manager. I was accompanying our security guard with a shoplifter to my office when he suddenly became violent. This was inside the store, by customers, and was captured on CCTV. During the course of helping the guard restrain him, I broke a finger in 3 places, tore off a tendon and now need surgery within the next week. The specialist has signed me off until the end of January in the first instance. My right hand will be in plaster for a month and then will need a further month to mend. My situation is compounded by the fact that I am currently working my 1 month notice (until Dec. 29th) and am supposed to be starting as a store manager for a different supermarket on Jan. 9th. Normally I would receive full pay whilst off sick. Who is responsible for paying this in my situation? Does it sound like I should pursue a case for Compensation for Injury as well? Any advice would be great. Thanks.
steve - 21-Dec-16 @ 10:21 AM
Burts- Your Question:
I recently started a new job as a supervisor and received inadequate training for the position, I was expected to do things that I wasn't trained on and was being told off for the amount of things I couldn't do, I was told by my area manager that he would "batter me" if I didn't do something correctly, I walked out at this point. Could you advise me what to do?

Our Response:
Have you complained to your employer? If you haven't mentioned any of this to your employer, then they cannot take action to help you or to penalise the area manager. Unfortunately - walking out is not really the most appropriate thing to do.
SafeWorkers - 14-Nov-16 @ 12:21 PM
I recently started a new job as a supervisor and received inadequate training for the position, I was expected to do things that I wasn't trained on and was being told off for the amount of things I couldn't do, I was told by my area manager that he would "batter me" if I didn't do something correctly, I walked out at this point. Could you advise me what to do?
Burts - 12-Nov-16 @ 2:51 PM
I worked as a Team Leader in a care home.A new male resident subjected me to a night of intimidation through verbal abuse and threats eventually threatening to kill me.I was lone working at the time on a unit with 10 mental health residents.The only help available was via phone call to the neighbouring unit.Upon the advice of the NHS the police attended.The manager blamed me for escalating the situation and never followed the company's own violence & aggression policies & procedures.I became very stressed and suffered anxiety when around the resident.I was diagnosed by my GP as having PTSD, was prescribed anti-depressants for anxiety and referred for psychotherapy.I did not take time off following the incident but worked on the neighbouring unit for a few shifts.However, I never received any management support whatsoever and have now left my job.Would I have a case for an employment tribunal?I reported the management to the NMC, they in return have reported me to the SSSC saying I retaliated causing the situation to worsen.
Gill - 11-Nov-16 @ 10:57 PM
I worked as a Team Leader in a care home.A new male resident subjected me to a night of intimidation through verbal abuse and threats eventually threatening to kill me.I was lone working at the time on a unit with 10 mental health residents.The only help available was via phone call to the neighbouring unit.Upon the advice of the NHS the police attended.The manager blamed me for escalating the situation and never followed the company's own violence & aggression policies & procedures.I became very stressed and suffered anxiety when around the resident.I was diagnosed by my GP as having PTSD, was prescribed anti-depressants for anxiety and referred for psychotherapy.I did not take time off following the incident but worked on the neighbouring unit for a few shifts.However, I never received any management support whatsoever and have now left my job.Would I have a case for an employment tribunal?I reported the management to the NMC, they in return have reported me to the SSSC saying I retaliated causing the situation to worsen.
Gill - 11-Nov-16 @ 10:26 AM
I worked as a Team Leader in a care home.A new male resident subjected me to a night of intimidation through verbal abuse and threats eventually threatening to kill me.I was lone working at the time on a unit with 10 mental health residents.The only help available was via phone call to the neighbouring unit.Upon the advice of the NHS the police attended.The manager blamed me for escalating the situation and never followed the company's own violence & aggression policies & procedures.I became very stressed and suffered anxiety when around the resident.I was diagnosed by my GP as having PTSD, was prescribed anti-depressants for anxiety and referred for psychotherapy.I did not take time off following the incident but worked on the neighbouring unit for a few shifts.However, I never received any management support whatsoever and have now left my job.Would I have a case for an employment tribunal?I reported the management to the NMC, they in return have reported me to the SSSC saying I retaliated causing the situation to worsen.
Gill - 10-Nov-16 @ 11:06 PM
A. - Your Question:
Last night my partner at who was doing a night shift (he works in hotel), he works in reception and a drunk guest tired to attack him, the guest jumped over the reception desk twice, he got kick in the head as the guy jumped and lucky for my partner he managed to push him back off the desk, he has got all of the evidence on the security cameras and my partner boss didn't call the police as no crime was committed but he did get kicked out of the hotel and banned from it, I was wondering does anyone know his rights?

Our Response:
There is nothing preventing your partner from contacting the police even if the employer didn't. Make sure your partner checks that your employer has a policy in place that describes what measures are taken to reduce risks posed by violent guests and also how to handle them etc.
SafeWorkers - 10-Nov-16 @ 10:31 AM
Last night my partner at who was doing a night shift (he works in hotel), he works in reception and a drunk guest tired to attack him, the guest jumped over the reception desk twice, he got kick in the head as the guy jumped and lucky for my partner he managed to push him back off the desk, he has got all of the evidence on the security cameras and my partner boss didn't call the police as no crime was committed but he did get kicked out of the hotel and banned from it, I was wondering does anyone know his rights?
A. - 9-Nov-16 @ 12:54 PM
My co worker on my second day when I was doing what I was asked started shouting at me, I couldn't understand what she was saying and carried on doing the job I was told to when she grabbed me and snatched the hose off of me. I walked off with intention of quitting but was stopped by her cornering me and not letting me go past saying I'm sorry I'm sorry I no speak English. I stayed but let the boss know via txt and spoke with him a few days later now 2 weeks on he has sacked me via a work mate with the message that as the person in question had been with the company for 8 years that it was concise red I was the problem. I've since found out that the company we were working in has cctv and could possibly pick up the incident that can prove that I did nothing wrong. Can I take things further and do I have any rights
Alison - 3-Nov-16 @ 11:30 PM
I meant she hit me with a bin bag and she meant it I don't no if it been dealt with privately hr has seen both of us. I have asked supervisor if anything has been donebut she said she hasn't heard anything I'm dreading her coming back to work
Stressed - 2-Nov-16 @ 3:25 PM
Stressed - Your Question:
My work colleague hit me at work I complained now she is of work on sick haven't heard anything been 4 months now what's my rights

Our Response:
Has your employer dealt with this privately? Have you asked? Did you want to pres charges, if so did you or your employer contact the police? Sorry not enough information.
SafeWorkers - 2-Nov-16 @ 2:04 PM
My work colleague hit me at work I complained now she is of work on sick haven't heard anything been 4 months now what's my rights
Stressed - 2-Nov-16 @ 9:58 AM
Daisy - Your Question:
Hello,Last night a very angry customer who we believed to be under the influence of an illegal substance cake into the shop and threatened to attack me and my colleague on our way home from work 'when we weren't expecting it'. His issue with the company has been going on for a while and we have done all we can for him, now he is getting aggressive and making personal threats like this, I do not feel safe. What can I do?

Our Response:
You should contact the police about this kind of behaviour. Ask your employer what it intends to do about this and what measures they will take to reassure you.
SafeWorkers - 21-Oct-16 @ 10:19 AM
Hello, Last night a very angry customer who we believed to be under the influence of an illegal substance cake into the shop and threatened to attack me and my colleague on our way home from work 'when we weren't expecting it'. His issue with the company has been going on for a while and we have done all we can for him, now he is getting aggressive and making personal threats like this, I do not feel safe. What can I do?
Daisy - 20-Oct-16 @ 9:28 AM
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