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Violence at Work

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 22 Nov 2018 | 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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In response to Big Cliff hey this may make you feel better but I no all about what happened to you as there has been genuine concern from us at another store and ive worked with you previously so I can imagine that youve felt dropped by the big guys happens all the time but us little workers at the store have been asking after you and just wanted to reach out to say Im thinking of you and hope given time your back to your best :)
Tee - 18-Nov-18 @ 4:48 PM
Me and my young daughter have suffered continued harrassment from a particular family resulting in an attack on my daughter and having to move her school but the mother of this family set a plan in motion to firstly attack my at work and then proceed to make an anonymous complaint pretending to be a member of the public sickened by the brawling but not only have i been suspended from my job i have to attend a disciplinarily meeting and there are roughly 6 statements from my co-workers saying what they saw but there is 1 co-worker who has lied in her statement because as it happens her job isnt secure and will likely be moved to another store due to a loss of the amounts of acailable hours at our store and having told me herself of her worry and how unfair it is she will benefit from my dismissal and feel this is why she has lied i dont no what to do ive literally fallen apart by feeling a failure at not protecting my daughter but also so low i cant pull myself together the effect on my mental health has been monumental and my manager isnt get back to me and iv days away from the meeting baring in mind from the incident to the meeting has been 4days only 2 of those days business days im at a loss at how unfair this is after 12years service and not a blemish on my record will i likely be dismissed or a written warning can anyone put my mind to rest.
Tee - 18-Nov-18 @ 4:40 PM
I witnessed a member of staff abandon their position without authorisation, I confronted them & asked them why and he became immediately verbally aggressive & abusive. When I explained calmly that I was his supervisor he got in my face and started threatening me whilst swearing heavily. I was shocked & as he turned to leave I pushed with an open hand & told him to get back to work. He got back in my face & started threatening me again & I walked away. I have now been suspended for assault as I am being portrayed as the aggressor. How much trouble am I in?
Leyton - 3-Nov-18 @ 12:40 PM
Hey all I just wanted some advice for work I look after 2 children one is extremely aggressive and violent, I’ve spoken to parents about this but nothing changes, it makes me not like my job, I’m looking for another job away from childcare but my contract says I need to give 1months notice, if I’m leaving due to being attacked almost daily does anyone know if I have to work the whole month or can I reduce it to maybe half, thanks in advance any help much appreciated
Kel - 1-Nov-18 @ 8:48 PM
My son was physically threatened with a knife by another worker three weeks ago. Son is now off work with anxiety and low mood because this person is still working there. An alleged disciplinary is meant to happen but still waiting. Nobody will tell him anything and at a sickness meeting he was made to feel as if he was the guilty one. What can we do??
Grohlsgal - 25-Oct-18 @ 10:50 PM
A coworker called me lazy then pushed me in to machinery so I pushed him away from me then he punched me I got to the work truck and my manager fired us both for fighting.. I was only fighting to get away from the scary man
Freckles - 11-Oct-18 @ 7:32 AM
My daughter in law who is Spanish, an excelling in her learning the english language, experienced a violent threat from Our employer, i say this because i work at the same place. we cannot find anything to advise us regarding employer bullying.. everysite including the Gov site only covers employee to employee or manger/supervisor bullying, and advises to speak to employer or upper management. We are all on zero hour contracts, Anybody experiencing the same, or have any advice as to where to go. thanking in Advance
Yokoelsa - 2-Oct-18 @ 1:01 PM
This guy at my work has continuously belittled me and criticizes all my work. He says stuff like ,(HOW STUPID ARE U . U DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT U DOING .- ARE U MENTALLYDISABLEDOR JUST STUPID .LAZY ) AND MUCH MORE . I FINALLY couldnt takr anymore and i threatened him if he said any more. Well my boss thinks that we go back and forth all the time , which is incorrect. I have just stayed quiet to his comments till today. I know i should have handle it differently but i was pushed past my ability to think reasonably. They suspended me for 2 days and may still fire me and as far as i know nothing happened to him . What are my rights and do i have a valid argument to keep my job? I really need it and thats part the reason i never turned him in . I know some places dont like it when u rock the boat or accuse someone of bullying or anything like that cause company could be held accountableif not handled correctly. So instead of trying to fix it they try find way to get rid of the person bringing it to light. What can i do or have i already messed up my rights when i threatened the guy.?
Jones - 28-Sep-18 @ 7:58 AM
I am a Support Worker with mental health adults. Manager told me tiday I must take a battering, a few slaps and hair pulling from user to get accepted by the user. She said all staff have to experience this to be able to gain acceptance. Don't know what yo say as I am worried for myself and other new staff.
Miss Concerned - 27-Sep-18 @ 7:12 PM
hi, I was few times verbally assaulted at work from same colleague, I have already submitted informal complaint this year with HR and I took a week off my holiday just to have a breathing space from this colleague. today again I was shouted at and sworn at by this colleague and he tried to belittle me in front of HR and another colleague, then he went outside to speak to his brother who is DM and DM came in the office to shout at me, later on DM apologized and I accepted his apology but I am pretty much ready to leave the work place as I am not in the mood anymore to work in same space as this guy. I am currently pregnant and this is not doing me well especially in my condition. what can I do?
monmon27 - 24-Sep-18 @ 12:29 PM
Attacked at work by shoplifter with a syringe fought him of and call the police . But after the incident i was not asked by any manager if i was ok or need and support. I have since left and I am being treated for low mood and anxiety i have suffered from ptsd in the past.
Big cliff - 20-Sep-18 @ 3:10 PM
Basically i was put in a choke hold at my place of work while sitting at the desk, my my manager was present, after being choked for 12 secs and being left breathless and coughing i look at my manger and he is amused by what he saw. i then come back two days later to find out he is still working in the store amongst other employees and customers & i am told by colleagues, i heard what happened and its absolutely awful you should accept that so basically i got the CCTV of him choking me for my own protection in case it happens again as the lads were saying for your own sake its best you save that and i went on holiday for two weeks then return to work to be told i am suspended for two weeks my manager due to the fact i took footage from the company so they are trying to say GDPR, i have raised a grievance as a weeks prior to me being assualted this guy was verbally agressive, telling people he has to physical stop himself from hurting me & my manager knew about it and egged it on by making a CV stating this guy was going to buy a knife and stab me one day, that was 6 days beofr ehe actually assaulted me. now i have been suspended for two weeks paid now it has reached the end. it has been a whole month i have heard nothing back, im not getting paid anymore and i have monthly out goings i need to maintain. i have been signed off with SSP due to stress at work but haven't sent it HR can i while suspended ?? so I am looking for advice on these certain questions ( Below ) Can i dismissed for taking the footage of the assault if the reason was because my manager did nothing to stop it at the time it happened & thought it was okay for him to continue working after ??? Can i hand in a SSP due to stress at work while suspended as im now not being paid ????
redeyedia - 10-Sep-18 @ 12:14 AM
Basically i was put in a choke hold at my place of work while sitting at the desk, my my manager was present, after being choked for 12 secs and being left breathless and coughing i look at my manger and he is amused by what he saw. i then come back two days later to find out he is still working in the store amongst other employees and customers & i am told by colleagues, i heard what happened and its absolutely awful you should accept that so basically i got the CCTV of him choking me for my own protection in case it happens again as the lads were saying for your own sake its best you save that and i went on holiday for two weeks then return to work to be told i am suspended for two weeks my manager due to the fact i took footage from the company so they are trying to say GDPR, i have raised a grievance as a weeks prior to me being assualted this guy was verbally agressive, telling people he has to physical stop himself from hurting me & my manager knew about it and egged it on by making a CV stating this guy was going to buy a knife and stab me one day, that was 6 days beofr ehe actually assaulted me. now i have been suspended for two weeks paid now it has reached the end. it has been a whole month i have heard nothing back, im not getting paid anymore and i have monthly out goings i need to maintain. i have been signed off with SSP due to stress at work but haven't sent it HR can i while suspended ?? so I am looking for advice on these certain questions ( Below ) Can i dismissed for taking the footage of the assault if the reason was because my manager did nothing to stop it at the time it happened & thought it was okay for him to continue working after ??? Can i hand in a SSP due to stress at work while suspended as im now not being paid ????
redeyedia - 9-Sep-18 @ 5:05 PM
In 2016 my husband was the victim of a serious assault by a customer resulting in him being punched and kicked unconscious. His injuries meant he had to have facial reconstruction surgery and now has 3 titanium plates around his eye and permanent nerve pain on one side of his face.His attacker was sentenced to 18 months in prison and CICA have paid a small amount of compensation. Is there any further action we can take as security cameras were not installed in the store (but they were installed rapidly after) and my husband was unaware of any panic alarm. This was in a pharmacy.Please help.
Helen - 8-Sep-18 @ 3:35 PM
I'm a bus driver I got robbed of my cash takingsI'm off work now
Buddy UK - 3-Sep-18 @ 5:07 PM
I was badly sworn by a male colleague with threats to fight me - within earshot of line manager Manager laughed. I asked manager to take action and she did not. I asked a number of times, but was told to shut up and put up. This made me very ill, and I ended up leaving job.I am being seen as the bad party which is unfair
DollyRocker - 24-Aug-18 @ 12:38 PM
Was assualted at work twice 1st incident I used self defence to stop him although he had hurt me. He attacked me again and hit me round the face with a mug which shatteredas again I used self defence up to the point I had to use reasonable force to stop him. The witness i had with me said he didn’t see much. Work are trying to get me to resign. Any ideas what I should do?
Dobbo - 19-Aug-18 @ 7:31 PM
Please help last night a customer went to hit me but was stopped then went off come back few minutes later threatening to stab me I called my manager he came over spoke to witness then said ok I have to go now and left me in throwing distance of the customer is he wrong should he not of sent me away and he deal with the customer
Shorty - 29-Jul-18 @ 6:55 PM
jim - Your Question:
I was assaulted at work for sitting in a chair before someone.They deliberately knocked hot coffee over me, kicked me in the top part of my shoulder (wearing steel toe cap boots) then spat in my face.I was told by the management that I was sat out of shot on the CCTV footage. 4 people witnessed this happen. 1 of these people confirmed what occurred.The manager who dealt with this has since been dismissed for failing a drugs test. I feel his 'investigation' was unsatisfactory due to his own complacency and laziness.Since then I have been verbally abused by this person and victimised by other work colleagues due to them being friends with this person. I have told my current manager, yet still nothing is being done.I feel miserable in my job now and I am ready to quit. Some help would be greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Raise a formal complaint to your employer, saying that you don't feel the issue was dealt with properly and inline with their disciplinary procedures. ACAS is a good place to try if you want to speak with someone directly about it.
SafeWorkers - 27-Jul-18 @ 11:18 AM
I was assaulted at work for sitting in a chair before someone. They deliberately knocked hot coffee over me, kicked me in the top part of my shoulder (wearing steel toe cap boots) then spat in my face. I was told by the management that I was sat out of shot on the CCTV footage. 4 people witnessed this happen. 1 of these people confirmed what occurred. The manager who dealt with this has since been dismissed for failing a drugs test. I feel his 'investigation' was unsatisfactory due to his own complacency and laziness. Since then I have been verbally abused by this person and victimised by other work colleagues due to them being friends with this person. I have told my current manager, yet still nothing is being done. I feel miserable in my job now and I am ready to quit. Some help would be greatly appreciated.
jim - 26-Jul-18 @ 7:22 AM
Mommabear - Your Question:
My brother was in a relationship with a work colleague which was known to the workplace. They recently had an incident outside of work where they had an argument and were verbally aggressive. Since this incident my brother has been off work due to his mental health and is now on medication and having counselling. The woman he was seeing has told work that he attacked her and he is now facing disciplinary action even though he has not been seen by work for his description of events. There was no police involvement and no charges have been bought.The worry is that he will lose his job based on an argument outside of work and the information given by one party only. Can this happen? Where can he find some support?

Our Response:
The employer should carry out an investigation and follow correct disciplinary procedures (which would involve interviewing both parties etc). An incident outside of work between two people in a private relationship would not normally be dealt with by an employer unless a no office relationship policy is in place etc. Citizens' Advice or ACAS are good places to start looking for support/advice.
SafeWorkers - 24-Jul-18 @ 11:14 AM
My brother was in a relationship with a work colleague which was known to the workplace. They recently had an incident outside of work where they had an argument and were verbally aggressive. Since this incident my brother has been off work due to his mental health and is now on medication and having counselling. The woman he was seeing has told work that he attacked her and he is now facing disciplinary action even though he has not been seen by work for his description of events. There was no police involvement and no charges have been bought. The worry is that he will lose his job based on an argument outside of work and the information given by one party only. Can this happen? Where can he find some support?
Mommabear - 23-Jul-18 @ 1:45 PM
I work in an office with an man who must be in his late 50's who has made me feel indimitated and unerved for the last 8 years, I have never told any one else that he gives me the creeps and I have avoided all social situations with work colleagues so that I have no interaction with him.Every one else in the office thinks he's wonderful and clever yet I have always suspected he might be manipulative possibly preditory and violent, he says he doesn't drink; however as I suspected I found out from another work colleague that he showed real venom at the Blenheim Palace protests even though the protests were suppose to be peaceful.The man seems to charm ever one and I can't believe that I am the only person in the office that can see through it, I think if he would get the chance he would be both verbally and physically violent towards me at work. I don't have enough evidence to go to the police however I could tell them that I believed he used to follow me around the building at lunchtime.
Caspa - 13-Jul-18 @ 9:51 AM
I have worked at a printers for 4 years in this time Ibhave had constant issues with one guy , on my first week we fell and have been unable to get on with eachother since and as such a number of problems have arisen since to the point where the management has told us both they not interested anymore . Last Saturday however on overtime we were both present at work and I was working when the guy came up behind with a pallet truck and shouted get out the way ! I was flustered tryed to move but stood on my laces and tripped slightly bumping in to him for which i instantly apologised only be hit with a barrage of name calling and threats . I responded by shouting back a little and within seconds the matter had resolved and we returned to our usual work stations . I saw that the guy was laughing and shaking his head so I asked him what was so funny to which he replied "You'll see" I thought this a little strange but no worse then usual and other daily and weekly runnings with thos guy so I let things rest there . Shortly after this i noticed the guy had gone from his work station and the supervisor arrived ,not thinking too much of this I carried on working as we're currently very busy , the supervisor approached a little while later and asked if id seen the guy and I replied no as I hadnt for a while and then then the supervisor left and I finished my shift and went home for the weekend . On Monday I returned to work at 2pm as normal only to be stopped instantly at the door and ushered to the managers office only to be told I am suspended on pay pending investigation of gross misconduct I was told that allegation of violence or threatening behaviour has been made and needs to be investigated and Im to leave now and not return untill told to do so .This seems pretty unfair to me given that i have clean work record and regularly work upto 50hrs ot a month for the company . I was called in again the next day for a meeting at an hours notice and told not to bother bringing uniform so I instantly knew the matter was not resolved . I was told I couldn't have a companion present at the meeting and I repeated my account of Saturdays events to the supervisor who seemed fairly understanding as he had to deal with us before .When the meeting was concluded I was told to return home again and wait for the enquiry to be done which was now 4 days ago and I havent heard anything .I am worried sick I will loose my job and I have had problems in the past with being dealt with fairly as the guy I don't get on with has some kind of relations with supervisor (unknown) but he always seems to side with him on everything . We have cctv at work and i have spoken to everyone who was in that day and we all agree it was nothing new or special . Nobody was hurt i had no intention to hurt or bother anyone so why is this being treated as such a serious incident ? I am sure even the most thorough investigation could have cleared me by now to the point where somebo
MIKEY - 12-Jul-18 @ 7:56 AM
Jay Riviera - Your Question:
Hi I was at work and a hour away from the end of my shift when I received a phone call from my wife saying that somebody I work with had told the staff at her work that I had been saying pretty vile and nasty things (which could only be rumours because me and this certain workmate don't talk) understandably I was quite seriously angry I made a few threats but not to the person (who was actually not even on shift at the time) I realized that I wasn't fit to finish my shift and had been asked if I wanted to leave about 30 mins earlier so I asked the shift manager if I could leave and they agreed this was about 5 mins after the phone call.The next day I had calmed down and as I walked in I went to speak with him and I approached him in a calm and professional manner and he offered me to go outside and fight him I said "Look I'm not willing to lose my job over this just don't talk about me outside of work" to that he said "Well you were threatening to kick my head in yesterday" which I then apologized for it and said it was because I was angry at the time, Then he punched me in the face in clear view of cameras and staff after the event I was offered to take a weeks holiday while they sort out the matter which I agreed and during that week I got a letter through the door saying I was suspended until a disciplinary investigation can be carried out but the person who assaulted me has been working ever since the incident.Now this morning I was offered a redundancy package (an absolutely laughable one for 11 years service) and this is not the first time this situation has happened either 3 years ago I got suspended and handed a letter of termination without even going through disciplinary action which got over turned as unfair dismissal.I know this is wrong what they are doing but how should I go about dealing with this situation any help is appreciated thanks

Our Response:
Contact ACAS with information about the redundancy and previous incidents. They will be able to tell you whether your employer has acted within the law and what you can do about it.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jul-18 @ 12:46 PM
Hi I was at work and a hour away from the end of my shift when i received a phone call from my wife saying that somebody i work with had told the staff at her work that i had been saying pretty vile and nasty things (which could only be rumours because me and this certain workmate don't talk) understandably i was quite seriously angry I made a few threats but not to the person (who was actually not even on shift at the time) I realized that i wasn't fit to finish my shift and had been asked if i wanted to leave about 30 mins earlier so i asked the shift manager if i could leave and they agreed this was about 5 mins after the phone call. The next day I had calmed down and as I walked in I went to speak with him and I approached him in a calm and professional manner and he offered me to go outside and fight him I said "Look I'm not willing to lose my job over this just don't talk about me outside of work" to that he said "Well you were threatening to kick my head in yesterday" which I then apologized for it and said it was because i was angry at the time, Then he punched me in the face in clear view of cameras and staff after the event i was offered to take a weeks holiday while they sort out the matter which i agreed and during that week i got a letter through the door saying i was suspended until a disciplinary investigation can be carried out but the person who assaulted me has been working ever since the incident. Now this morning I was offered a redundancy package (an absolutely laughable one for 11 years service) and this is not the first time this situation has happened either 3 years ago I got suspended and handed a letter of termination without even going through disciplinary action which got over turned as unfair dismissal. I know this is wrong what they are doing but how should i go about dealing with this situation any help is appreciated thanks
Jay Riviera - 2-Jul-18 @ 11:24 AM
I work at a hotel. I'm a front desk receptionist.We have some guest staying long term for construction work. This group of workers are drunk and rowdy, cops are called weekly for domestic violence on this particular group. I was assaulted and held against my will, by one of the workers staying at the hotel. He was arrested.I'm scared to go back and am having panic attacks everyday. What, if any, action can I take against my company for not having a safe work environment? They knew this group was trouble and did nothing. Also can I file for workers comp or disability? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Loo - 29-Jun-18 @ 11:28 PM
I work for the school district of Philadelphia.I'm a bus attendany and i been so for 12 yrs. My driver have talked down and disrespected me on many occasions.I draw the line at threats.She told me she was gonna punch me in my face and to shut up. I'm 34 yrs old and I have never talked to her that way in return. She has been saying things like that to me all this school year of 2017-2018. I have never met her before this year.And it is affecting my ability to be at my best on the job. Ive had people witness her actions and not want to get involved.Ive tried to go through the proper channels to have a meeting with union reps. We never had the meeting and the behavior persist.I am finally fed up. I wrote her up today June 11, 2018. I felt like i had to put up with her actions in order to keep my job and i have ask to be transferred or placed somewhere else with no action and no help
Steph - 11-Jun-18 @ 4:49 PM
JohnJoe - Your Question:
I work for a major haulage company as a courier.A colleague of mine was delivering to a school for disfunctional children where he was assaulted by a pupil.As a result he restrained the attacker until teachers arrived on the scene.He has subsequently been dismissed for the incident.Does this constitute unfair dismissal as he was protecting himself?What course should he take going forward?I would appreciate some advice on this matter.

Our Response:
This depends on what kind of restraint he performed. Ask your employer what their policy is on this for your own reference. Your colleague should seek advice from ACAS or a trade union if he feels he has been unfairly treated.
SafeWorkers - 11-Jun-18 @ 3:46 PM
I work for a major haulage company as a courier. A colleague of mine was delivering to a school for disfunctional children where he was assaulted by a pupil. As a result he restrained the attacker until teachers arrived on the scene. He has subsequently been dismissed for the incident. Does this constitute unfair dismissal as he was protecting himself? What course should he take going forward? I would appreciate some advice on this matter.
JohnJoe - 8-Jun-18 @ 10:48 PM
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