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Violence at Work

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 12 Feb 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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[Add a Comment]
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
I was pushed out of the way whilst working on a site by a person is that classified as assault. The person who pushed me was with his carer.
Roddie - 17-Oct-16 @ 5:17 PM
ConcernedManager - Your Question:
Why would you delete by comment/question?

Our Response:
We haven't deleted it as far as we can see. Can you try re-posting?
SafeWorkers - 17-Oct-16 @ 12:42 PM
Why would you delete by comment/question?
ConcernedManager - 16-Oct-16 @ 12:53 AM
Trish - Your Question:
I was threatened at work by another woman, she was verbally abusing me and threatened that she was going to smash my f.img face in, she humiliated me and I am an emotional wreck, she did this on the shop floor and it was heard by many people, she was suspended but now is back at work, I am a mess and can't stop crying, I feel I have been let down and I am still really scared has she said she'd do it out of work so she doesn't get the sack.

Our Response:
If you feel genuinely threatened outside of the workplace it might be worth letting your local police know about it. In the workplace, hopefully, the fear of losing her job will be sufficient to prevent her from repeating the behaviour.
SafeWorkers - 11-Oct-16 @ 2:28 PM
I was threatened at work by another woman, she was verbally abusing me and threatened that she was going to smash my f...img face in, she humiliated me and I am an emotional wreck, she did this on the shop floor and it was heard by many people, she was suspended but now is back at work, I am a mess and can't stop crying, I feel I have been let down and I am still really scared has she said she'd do it out of work so she doesn't get the sack.
Trish - 10-Oct-16 @ 7:22 PM
Good evening, I am searching for answers on raising your voice at work. Today I raised my voice to a colleague who had made a very poor decision which resulted in damaged property for the company I work for. I did this in front of other colleagues. At no time did I use foul language, however, this colleague has now complained. My director (line manager) has now called for a formal meeting on Monday. Should I be concerned? Have I broken any employment laws and should I consider employment representation? Many Thanks
JohnC - 23-Sep-16 @ 12:56 AM
marylondon - Your Question:
A colleague tried to punch me and hit me on the face on a night out (which was between people from work only but not on company premises) what should I do?

Our Response:
Report it to the police? Report it to you boss?
SafeWorkers - 19-Sep-16 @ 11:35 AM
A colleague tried to punch me and hit me on the face on a night out (which was between people from work only but not on company premises) what should I do?
marylondon - 17-Sep-16 @ 11:10 AM
sur - Your Question:
I was grabbed by my arm and pulled across the other side of the shop I asked her to let go because she was hurting me (I have a problem with my arm before she hurt me) she wouldn't let go and was squeezing it I had to yank it away from her, tried to speak to my supervisor but she started having a go at me. I clocked out of work an hr early because my arm was really hurting. Where do I stand ??

Our Response:
We don't know what your question is really? Have you reported it as assault?
SafeWorkers - 6-Sep-16 @ 2:20 PM
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