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 often described as acting out, challenging behaviour and behaviours of concern. Work-related violence can cause physical and/or psychological injuries, and ometimes be fatal. Employees can be exposed to work-related violence from a range of sources, including clients, customers, patients, people in custody and members of the public. Work-related violence can happen in any industry but often occurs in the health, aged care, disability, youth services, education, law enforcement, retail, hospitality, security, cashhandling, finance and banking industries.

Examples of work-related violence include:
  • biting, spitting, scratching, hitting, kicking
  • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing
  • throwing objects
  • verbal threats
  • threatening someone with a weapon, armed robbery
  • sexual assault.
This guide 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 will be useful for employees also.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) laws are designed to ensure the health and safety of employees and others at the workplace. This guide provides information on how employers can implement measures to eliminate or reduce work-related violence, so far as is reasonably practicable. It also provides information on how to respond to incidents, including what systems to put in place and how to investigate an incident. This information will help employers comply with their duties under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (the OHS Act). It can also be used by health and safety representatives (HSRs).

2.1 Employer duties
An employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for their employees (employees include independent contractors engaged by an employer and any employees of the independent contractor). This includes providing and maintaining systems of work that are, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health and consulting with health and safety representatives (HSRs) and their employees about health and safety issues that may directly affect them. Consultation about work-related violence must occur when:
  • identifying or assessing hazards or risks in the workplace
  • making decisions about measures to be taken to prevent
  • and manage work-related violence risks
  • making decisions about information and training on work related violence
  • proposing changes that may affect the health and safety of employees.
Employers must also provide information, instruction, training or supervision to their employees to enable them to perform their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

2.2 Employee duties
Employees must take reasonable care of their own health and safety in the workplace, and the health and safety of others who may be affected by their actions (including omissions). Employees must also cooperate with their employer with respect to any action taken to comply with the OHS Act.

This partial guide forms part of our extensive Wellbeing section to which you receive free access as a member of the Wentworth Advantage Help Desk Service.
To access the full article visit A Guide for Employers Preventing and Responding to Work-Related Violence

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This document does not constitute human resource or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should contact the HR Help Desk or seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content. © Wentworth Advantage Pty Ltd 2017