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Incidents of violence at work are increasing, particularly in the retail and residential care sectors, according to recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive. 

What is violence at work?

Any incident during which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to work.  This includes verbal abuse, threats and physical attacks.

What can be done?

Employers have a responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff whilst at work. They are also required to consider all risks within their business and where identified, control or eliminate them.


To comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. Violence can lead to poor staff morale, higher absenteeism, stress, higher insurance costs and possible compensation claims. If you do not address these problems effectively your business will suffer.

Identifying risks

The personal safety of you and your staff is of paramount importance. Ask yourself the following questions and then take action:

  • Have your staff been trained/instructed in dealing with incidents of theft, robbery etc?

  • Have staff been informed how best to avoid/cope with a potentially violent situation or abusive customers?

  • Have you considered personal attack alarms for your staff?

The handling of cash is another area which requires careful attention. If you can identify with the following statements then you should change your procedures:

  • I have a set routine for banking cash and use the same staff every time

  • I do not vary the times and route of visiting the bank

It is vital that your premises have good internal and external security measures in place. To assess the risks, use your answers to the following questions:

  1. Do you have a set procedure for opening and closing your premises?

  2. Have you informed the Police of the current keyholder for the premises?

  3. Are the premises covered by an alarm system?

  4. Does your alarm extend to the provision of panic buttons, for example at a counter?

  5. Is there adequate internal and external lighting?

All of these issues are important as good working practices are conducive to a safer environment for your employees.

Practical tips

When confronted with a violent situation it is important that you and your staff remember the following:

  • Stay calm
  • Try not to respond aggressively or be drawn into an argument
  • Trust your intuition and never underestimate the threat
  • If you feel threatened do not hesitate to seek assistance
  • Always record details of what has happened
  • Most importantly, call the Police 

For further information please contact Environmental Health and/or the Crime Prevention Officer at your local Police office.

Contact Information

Environmental Health - Regulatory Services
Telephone: 01563 576790