How to Tackle Workplace Violence

Workplace Violence can be an everyday reality in some professions. We have some tips to spot the red flags, reduce risk and deal with it when it flares up.

The Health, Safety and Environment Executive (HSE) defines workplace violence as: “Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in the circumstances relating to their work”. This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks.

Top tips for tackling workplace violence

  • Be aware of potential flashpoints.
  • Act quickly to defuse the situation.
  • Avoid situations that make you more vulnerable.
  • Familiarize yourself with security systems & measures.
  • Use de-escalation techniques.
  • Use awareness posters to set ground rules.

In 2019/2020, there were 688,000 incidents of violence at work, including assaults and threats. According to the HSE, 38% of those incidents resulted in injury.

Who is most at risk?

In Nigeria, many workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Research has identified several factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers at certain worksites.

Risk Factors

  • Exchanging money with the public
  • Working with unstable people
  • Working alone or in isolated areas
  • Providing services and care
  • Working where alcohol is served
  • Time of day and location of work (e.g. night or high crime areas)

Among the professions that were higher at risk were delivery drivers, healthcare professionals, public service workers, customer service agents, law enforcement personnel and those who work alone or in small groups.

Impact of workplace violence on businesses

Workplace violence can impact businesses in many ways, including staff turnover, damage to your reputation and your staff’s health and safety.

Violence and abuse can lead to work-related stress, which can have serious and long-term impacts on physical and mental health. Each case of stress-related ill health leads to an average of 31 working days lost, which has major financial implications for businesses.

Top tips for tackling workplace violence

1. Be aware of potential flashpoints

Certain situations may trigger violence or aggressive outbursts – such as a delay or hold-up, communicating a difficult or negative decision (turning someone’s application down), stress (having no choice), frustration (a lack of information), resentment (a perception of no rights), and so on.

2. Act quickly to defuse the situation

Don’t ignore trigger points, or things may deteriorate further. Instead, step up to calm things down, for example, by apologising for any delay or providing information.

3. Avoid situations that make you more vulnerable

Follow company rules on accompanied visits or meet in a public place if you visit vulnerable people with a history of violence. And try not to travel, carry cash or medication or handle complaints alone.

4. Familiarize yourself with security systems & measures

Be sure you know the security systems in place at your place of work. This includes security screens, alarms, emergency codes or codewords, etc. – so you know what to do to protect yourself.

5. Use de-escalation techniques

These techniques will stop the incidents from getting worse. For example, talk in a low, calm voice. This technique encourages the aggressor to focus on the facts (being rational stops you from being too emotional). Use positive body language and – if it’s safe to do so – stop them ‘playing to a crowd’ by going somewhere more private.

6. Use awareness posters to set ground rules

Have a zero-tolerance approach and warn people upfront via posters that abusive and violent behaviour is unacceptable and is not tolerated.

7. If you are subject to violence at work, tell your manager

It’s not usually your fault, so don’t be embarrassed to speak out. Share your experiences so your colleagues can protect themselves too!

Want to learn more about Health, Safety and Environment?

To help you plan and execute compliance in your organization, Rcl Industrial Safety Centre have created a comprehensive Health, Safety and Enivronment roadmap to help you achieve your goals.

At RCL Industrial Safety Centre these training is also available in different Nigerian languages like PIDGIN,YORUBA,HAUSA AND IGBO and also You can get to register on any safety training from RCL Industrial Safety Centre through this link

Our company (RCL Industrial Safety Centre) is an indigenous company dedicated to Health, Safety and Environment Training and Services.

We are technical partners of the National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria (NISCN) as well as approved training partners of most major International Occupational Safety and Health organizations like NEBOSH, and corporate members of ISPON (Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria) with thousands of personnel trained in various areas till date.

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