This informal article on Preventing Workplace Violence is provided by Valentina Sabucco from Trident Manor Limited a specialist security, risk, and crisis management consultancy dedicated to ‘Enabling the Protection of Assets’.
Like all public health emergencies the Covid-19 pandemic has created a climate of uncertainty which is having a detrimental effect on both people’s physical and mental well-being. This uncertainty can impact and potentially increase the level of internal and external threats of violence faced by staff in the workplace.
The current pandemic has the potential to increase the likelihood or workplace violence due to the additional levels of stress, employment insecurity, and financial concerns felt by individuals. Organisations have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for their staff, as well as a moral one, including from acts of violence. Failure to ensure this is addressed can have an adverse impact on the whole organisation including:
- Legal repercussions
- Operational delays
- Financial losses
- Low moral
- Reputational damage
Therefore this assurance should always be seen as a critical organisational objective.
What is Workplace Violence?
“Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened, or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work” (HSE) This is a very clear and unambiguous definition that should leave no employer or managers acting on an employer’s behalf with any doubt about what they should be protecting their staff from.
Acts that can be interpreted as workplace violence include (but not limited to):
- Racial abuse
- Sexual assault (also a crime)
- Some acts of discrimination
In the UK, the violence does not just have to be physical, mental harm can also be categorised as Workplace Violence.
Sources of Workplace Violence
There is a misconception that workplace violence just come from external sources, that is not the case. Often family members or internal sources such as colleagues and managers are responsible for the acts. In a majority of cases the perpetrator of workplace violence is known to the victim.
Some roles, especially those that have a need to interact with the public will be at greater risk from external threat sources and, as such, greater consideration should be provided by the employer to meet their duty of care obligations.
How Can Workplace Violence be Prevented
While employers have the responsibility to protect the health of their staff, they also have the duty to proactively provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to identify, avoid or, when not possible, manage cases of workplace violence. These include:
- Adopt a Zero Tolerance approach!
- Establish organisational wide governance defining its unacceptance and highlighting the consequences.
- Training on induction and periodically throughout the year.
- Understanding internal and external threat sources
- Identifying what constitutes Workplace Violence
- Identifying violence indicators
- Increasing awareness of actions to take in preventing the impact of Workplace Violence
- Understanding the welfare and post incident support that is/should be in place.
- Establish procedures to manage established or suspected cases.
- Continuous review of Workplace Violence policy, practises, procedures, and training.
Workplace Violence does not just refer to within the ‘offices’. It also includes the working environment. So if you have to send staff away from the office or even to travel internationally you still have a duty of care (legal and moral) to ensure that they are able to operate in a safe and secure environment as outlined by the HSE.
By proactively addressing the threats caused by workplace violence the number of incidents will be reduced, duty of care obligations met, a happier workforce and even increased productivity should all occur. Who wouldn’t want that?
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Trident Manor Limited, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.