On 19 February, the HSE published the findings from its 2013-14 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), showing that the number and frequency of violent offences experienced in the workplace has continued to decline across the United Kingdom.
The survey recorded 583,000 incidents of violence at work—269,000 assaults and 314,000 threats—which was a decrease of 73,000 incidents from 2012-13. Violence at work, as defined by the CSEW, is determined by the type of offence (assault or threat), what the victim was doing at the time of the incident and the relationship between the victim and the offender. The CSEW does not record domestic violence.
In the course of its investigation, the HSE explored which factors may have contributed to outbreaks of violence in the workplace. It found that only 35 per cent of incidents involved alcohol and 19 per cent involved drugs. However, it found that a much more relevant factor was the relationship between the victim and the offender. In 44 per cent of incidents, at least one of the individuals involved were either a client, customer or work colleague. Regardless of what may have instigated the confrontation, only 28 per cent resulted in injury—2 per cent were serious injuries, such as chipped or lost teeth, broken bones or concussions.
While the number and frequency of the violent offences experienced in the workplace has been declining for the past decade, it has not been an automatic process. Businesses like yours need to take an active role in mitigating workplace violence. Consider employing these six strategies to manage violent occurrences in the workplace:
- Conduct a thorough background check of each applicant to identify any possible warning signs that may point towards violence.
- Institute a zero-tolerance policy for workplace violence as well as verbal and nonverbal threats.
- Educate your employees on what constitutes violence and how to report it through the appropriate channels.
- Reassure employees that their reports of threats or violence will be taken seriously and investigated.
- Outline a comprehensive management plan to maintain security. Include local police who can provide assistance in identifying preventive measures.
- Implement access controls—such as sign-in sheets, access cards or CCTV cameras—throughout your business to keep a consistent record of who enters and exits.
Violence experienced at work can cost your business serious time, money and employee productivity. And because the effects of workplace violence are first felt by employees, it is critical that you adopt a proactive approach for mitigating violence in the workplace so you can stop it before it starts.
For more information on the HSE’s findings, visit: www.hse.gov.uk/Statistics/causinj/violence/violence-at-work.pdf