No employee of any organisation should be forced to accept incidents of violent or aggressive behaviour as a normal part of their job, but when working in health and social care – an industry entirely based around looking after people – this type of incident is far more common than you might think. Violent and aggressive incidents are the third biggest cause of injuries reported under RIDDOR from the health and social care sector.
What is work-related violence?
The HSE defines work-related violence as ‘Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.’
Some examples of violent and aggressive behaviour include:
- Visitors verbally abusing staff
- Nurses being verbally abused by patients
- Carers being bitten or grabbed by patients
- Catering assistants being hit by patients
Who is at risk?
All users and employees of services are potentially at risk from work-related violence. In many cases people using the service can be anxious, worried and under a lot of stress, and this may cause them to be more likely to use violence as a resource. According to the HSE anyone involved in the following activities are at an increased risk of violence and aggressive behaviour:
- Working alone
- Working after normal working hours
- Working and travelling in the community
- Handling valuables or medication
- Providing or withholding a service
- Exercising authority
- Working with people who are emotionally or mentally unstable
- Working with people who are under the influence of drink or drugs
- Working with people who are under stress.
It is important not to overlook ancillary staff such as cleaners, caterers and agency staff when looking at the risks.
What does the law say?
The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, along with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 both cover this area of the law making it clear that violence toward any employee is unacceptable.
What if you have suffered from work-place violence?
If you have suffered from violence in your workplace the first person to talk to should be your employer. The have a responsibility to protect you from such risks and should be able to help you in any situation like this. If they fail to do so, or appear not to be taking your position seriously, then you should contact one of our solicitors. They have years of experience in this area of the law and will swiftly be able to tell you whether or not you can make a successful claim for compensation.