Are You Protecting Your Staff From Work-Related Violence?

Work-related violence can be any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of, or in the course of, their work.

The number of reported incidents for workplace violence is constantly increasing due to the rise in drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems and dementia.

Workplace or occupational violence can have significant short and long-term impacts on a worker’s psychological and physical health. These can in turn have significant economic and social costs for workers, their family, their organisation and the wider community.

The definition of workplace violence covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that create a risk to the health and safety of all workers. Examples include:

  • biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking
  • punching, pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing
  • throwing objects
  • verbal threats
  • aggravated assault
  • any form of indecent physical contact
  • threatening someone with a weapon or armed robbery

Safe Work Australia reports identify:

  • 37% of workers report being sworn or yelled at in the workplace
  • 22% of workers report being physically assaulted or threatened by patients or clients
  • 39% of mental disorder workers’ compensation claims are caused by exposure to violence, bullying and harassment
  • 15% of mental stress workers’ compensation claims result from exposure to work-related violence
  • 26% of mental stress workers’ compensation claims made by workers aged 20–27 years were from exposure to work-related violence; and
  • 31% of mental stress workers’ compensation claims made by workers aged under 20 years were from exposure to work-related violence.

If you manage or control a workplace, you need to make sure workers and others in the workplace are not exposed to risks to their health and safety from workplace violence.

Key risk factors for workplace violence include:

  • working alone, in isolation or in a remote area with the inability to call for assistance
  • working offsite or in the community
  • working in unpredictable environments
  • communicating face-to-face with customers
  • handling cash, drugs and/or valuables
  • providing care to people who are in distress, afraid, ill or incarcerated
  • service methods that cause frustration, resentment or misunderstanding
  • providing care or services for people who have unreasonable expectations of what an organisation and or employee can provide to them
  • enforcement activities.

The best way to do reduce the likelihood of workplace violence is to eliminate the risk of exposure to it. If that’s not possible, you need to minimise the risk as far as reasonably practicable.

Prevention and management of workplace violence requires an integrated organisational approach. The nature and location of work, the types of clients, staffing levels and skill mix can all affect the risk of exposure to workplace violence.

Control measures you many consider implementing can include:

  • implementing policies and procedures for working alone
  • implementing policy and procedure for staff to manage aggressive customers
  • recording the movement of staff and checking on their location throughout the shift
  • clearly identifying staff and contractors – staff identification systems
  • implementing site security access systems, e.g. swipe cards and security personnel
  • installing appropriate barriers to separate workers from the public
  • secure storage and handling of high-value items such as medication and cash
  • reducing the number of high-value items carried by workers or managed onsite
  • providing adequate lighting in accordance with CPTED principles
  • providing behaviour management plans, i.e. a plan that documents strategies to assist a person, such as a carer or educator, in guiding a person with diagnosed behavioural difficulties to self-manage their behaviour
  • conducting workplace risk assessments
  • provide training to staff on responding to aggressive customers

For further information to go

For training Managing Aggressive Customers please go here

Share This
Previous Member
Storing Chemicals in the Workplace
Next Member
Managing Contractors Introduction