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Work-related Violence


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) define work-related violence as “any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work”.


People who deal with the public may face aggressive or violent behaviour, might be sworn at, threatened or even attacked. The British Crime Survey (BCS) and RIDDOR estimated there were 313 000 threats of violence and 341,000 physical assaults in 2010/11. Verbal abuse and threats are common. Physical attacks are dangerous and potentially fatal. At risk groups include those giving a service i.e. in licensed premises or retail trade, care, education, cash transactions, delivery/collection, lone workers, trainees, security, national and local government or controlling/representing authority.


Violence is bad for an organisation because it can lead to safety concerns, poor morale, poor performance, job dissatisfaction and a damaged business reputation or image. Violent incidents create fear, anxiety and stress which can have long term effects on the mental health of employees. Individuals may suffer pain, distress, disability or death. Costs of absence, lost staff time from injuries or stress, insurance premiums, compensation payments and labour turnover will increase making it difficult to recruit and keep staff.

Legal Requirements

Employers have a legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. Risks to employees must be assessed and arrangements made for their health and safety by effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review. This includes the need to protect employees from exposure to reasonably foreseeable violence. If you employ 5 or more people, you will need to keep a record of your main findings. Your health and safety inspector may ask to see your risk assessment in order to review the control measures you have put in place.

Employers must notify their enforcing authority within 15 days of an accident at work to any employee resulting in death, or incapacitation for 7 days or more after the accident date. This includes any act of non-consensual work-related physical violence done to a person at work. Records of all injuries resulting in absence of over three or more consecutive days must continue to be recorded, ideally in the accident book.

Employers must inform, and consult with, employees in good time on matters relating to their health and safety. Employee representatives, either appointed by recognised trade unions or elected may make representations to their employer on matters affecting the health and safety of those they represent.


If concerned about the risk of violence at work, we can help so please do not hesitate to contact us. For domestic violence please see our pages on Abuse.