Workplace Aggression and Violence

‘Violence in the workplace’ is of serious concern to many employees in the UK. Regular reports from the NHS provides evidence from just one high profile example of a working environment which has experienced workplace violence and turned to conflict management training to protect its employees.


With over 800,000 incidents of violence in the workplace reported in England and Wales each year, the Health & Safety Executive refer to the situation as being 'at a worrying level'.


‘Violence’ be it harassment, abuse, threats, aggression or physical violence damages organisations through loss of productivity, increased employee absenteeism, high staff turnover and in extreme cases can be one of the key factors in organisations ‘failing’.


Even in established organisations the effects of ‘violence’ can de-motivate even the most dedicated of workforces. A 2005 survey highlighted that 1 in every 22 NHS workers had experienced some level of violence in the workplace within the year. That is a total of 60,385 reported assaults by patients or their relatives on the doctors, nurses and support staff that are there to help them and protect them from further harm.


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) definition of violence is:


"Any incident, in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work."


For employers who recognise that aggression and violence is affecting their employees, the response can often seem like a 'catch 22'. Increase the physical security, place barriers between your employees and the ‘customer’ and the threat of ‘physical violence’ may reduce; however the feeling of imprisonment your employees get and the sense of distrust generated amongst your customers usually results in increased levels of ‘workplace violence’ which has equally negative consequences.


The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states:


"Employers have a legal duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practical, the health and safety and welfare at work of their employees."


Empowering your employees is the most positive and proactive approach to reducing workplace violence. Our Conflict Management & Resolution Course is designed specifically to reflect the needs of your workplace and will allow your employees to work with a renewed sense of confidence in their ability to defuse conflict before / when it arises.


Our Consultancy Service - Solutions to Workplace Violence can help you meet your statutory requirements set out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and conduct a risk assessment for your business. Our approach is to look beyond the obvious and provide innovative and effective solutions. The one thing all the experts agree on, is that training should be the foundation of any solution to workplace violence.


The HSE provide a number of guidance documents relating to ‘workplace violence’, these include:


  • Managing work-related violence in licensed and retail premises (pdf document) - October 2008
  • A Safer Place to Work - Protecting NHS Hospital and Ambulance Staff from Violence and Aggression (pdf document) - March 2003


Some working environments require employees to be able to restrain, escort or remove aggressive or violent persons. For these our Physical Intervention Course provides break-away and disengagement personal safety techniques; these allow your employees to remove themselves from the situation, creating time and space to use their conflict management & resolution skills to resolve the situation, call for help or ‘escape’. Where employees are as part of their role or job description expected to restrain, escort or remove an individual, our physical intervention techniques allow them to do so in a professional low-impact way without the use of force, strength or out-dated pain-compliance techniques. The emphasis of our training is always on taking proactive measures to avoid conflict.


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) recommends:


"Train your employees so that they can spot the early signs of aggression and either avoid it or cope with it.


Make sure they fully understand any systems you have set up for their protection.


Provide employees with any information they might need to identify clients with a history of violence or to anticipate factors which might make violence more likely."


Many sectors face workplace violence to one degree or another. Empowering employees goes a long way to protecting them, your customers and your business from the worst effects of this unnecessary burden. Workplace violence is estimated to cost business throughout the UK hundreds of millions of pounds every year.


All front-line employees working within the NHS are required to undertake Conflict Resolution training which incorporates the 10 learning objectives set out by the NHS CFSMS. Our Conflict Management & Resolution courses all cover the NHS CFSMS syllabus. For more details please visit our NHS CFSMS Compliance page.