Violence and aggression at work

Violence and aggression at work Midlands Health and Safety Consultancy

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national independent regulator for health and safety in the workplace, has updated its guidance for employers on violence at work. Workplace violence and aggression are significant issues that can have severe consequences for employees and businesses. Fortunately, there are steps that employers can take to safeguard their employees and create a safer work environment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines workplace violence as any incident in which an employee is physically assaulted, threatened, or verbally abused in circumstances relating to their work. This can happen face to face, over the phone, or online. Verbal abuse and threats can have a significant impact on employees’ mental health and can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. Our latest article looks at how employers can protect their staff from violence and aggression in the workplace.

Employer obligation

Employers’ legal obligations under Common Law have been summarised by the HSE as a duty to take reasonable care to:

  • Lay down a safe system at work
  • Provide safe premises and/or place of work
  • Provide safe plant and equipment


Risk assessments

In the UK, there is a legal obligation under the health and safety legislation to complete risk assessments. In the context of workplace violence, a risk assessment may be appropriate: it can determine if there are any hazards that are likely to cause harm.

The employer could assess the risks to workers (including the risk of reasonably foreseeable violence), decide what to do to prevent or control the risks, and develop a clear management plan to achieve this.

Conflict management training

Any job where workers come in contact with the public has the potential to experience conflict and violence in the workplace. Conflict management training can reduce or eliminate these issues and ensure a safer working environment. To get the best results, this kind of training should be provided to all employees, from the first point of contact (e.g. receptionists) to the final point of contact. This way, each employee can play a part in managing conflicts and preventing further issues.

Develop a workplace violence prevention policy and procedure

A workplace violence prevention policy and procedure outlines your business’s commitment to preventing violence and sets out the procedures for reporting and responding to incidents of violence or threats of violence. It should cover:-

  • Management commitment and employee participation
  • Worksite analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Safety and health training
  • Record keeping and program evaluation


Offer support

Employers should offer support to employees who have experienced workplace violence and aggression. This can include counselling, time off, and access to support groups.

For further information and advice on violence and aggression at work, please contact us here.

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