The Health and Safety Executive defines work-related violence as: any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.
In Policy HS13 - Violence at Work, violence is defined as: behaviour which produces damaging and hurtful effects, physically or emotionally, on other people.
In both instances the definition is not restricted to purely physical attacks, but includes verbal abuse or threats as well.
Health and safety law applies to risks to employees from violence, just as it does to other risks from work.
The main pieces of relevant legislation are: the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, under which employers have a duty to ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees (a duty that extends to protecting employees from violence); and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, under which employers must consider the risks to employees (including the risk of reasonably foreseeable violence), decide how significant the risks are, decide what to do to prevent or control the risks and develop a clear management plan to achieve this.
The Council acknowledges its duty under health and safety law to protect employees from work-related violence and will take all reasonable steps to prevent such violence occurring, and to minimise the consequences if it does occur. The Council also acknowledges that as well as actual physical injury from an attack, an assault, or the threat of an assault, including verbal abuse, can cause distress and shock to employees.
To this end the Council will monitor the environment and working practices of employees, especially those who are considered to be particularly vulnerable and, where necessary, will develop and implement suitable control measures to reduce the risk of work-related violence, and provide training in the prevention and management of violence and aggression for appropriate employees. In addition, the Council will provide guidance and information on support available for employees who have suffered from work-related violence.
Under health and safety law, employees also have a duty, i.e. to have regard for their own health and safety at work and for other people who may be affected by their actions.
This includes not only acting responsibly and professionally, but also following any safe systems of work, procedures, etc. implemented in the interest of health and safety, including their own health and safety.
To help the Council determine where the greatest risks are, it also means that employees should report all instances of work-related violence to their manager using the Violence at Work – Incident Report Form HS (V1) (see below in Additional Resources).
Advice on violence at work can be obtained from the Health and Safety Team, Tŷ Elai, Williamstown, CF40 1NY, telephone number 01443 425546.