Work-related violence: a guide for employers

This guidance may help employers control the risk of work-related violence. It may also benefit employees and health and safety representatives.

Definition of work-related violence

Work-related violence involves incidents in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work. This definition covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that can create a risk to the health and safety of employees. It includes behaviour sometimes described as acting out, challenging behaviour and behaviours of concern.

Examples of work-related violence

A range of sources can expose employees to work-related violence, including co-workers, clients, customers, patients, people in custody and members of the public.

Examples of work-related violence include:

  • biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking
    • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing
      • throwing objects
        • verbal threats or abuse
          • threatening someone with an object or weapon
            • armed robbery
              • sexual harassment and assault
                • online harassment, threats or abuse
                  • assault with a weapon

                    Experiencing or being exposed to work-related violence can cause both physical harm and psychological harm from fear and distress. Work-related violence is a work-related risk that employers must eliminate, so far as reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, employers must reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable.

                    This guidance will help employers understand their duties and provides advice about how to identify hazards and risks related to work-related violence, choose appropriate control measures and respond to incidents. The information may also be useful for employees and health and safety representatives.

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