Dave Whittle, CEO at Positive Response, discusses workplace violence in his latest blog for Infologue.com. Dave writes: “Within the security industry we regularly talk about workplace violence and how to prevent it from happening. However, many people fail to realise the breadth and depth of the issue, not realising that ‘violence at work’ can take many forms, physical or otherwise; be committed by a variety of people; and can impact a business in a variety of ways. Additionally, it is because of the complexity of the subject that a business cannot rely on a simplistic system to prevent it.
“The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines workplace violence as “any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.” In particular, it is important to notice that this definition includes both physical assault and verbal abuse.
“Often when we think of violence our first thoughts are of physical abuse. In 2015, there were nearly 570,000 recorded incidents of work related violence, of which assault accounted for almost 310,000 of cases. However, physical assault is not the only form of workplace violence people face, last year there were at least 155,000 victims of threats alone.
“Workplace violence can have a serious effect on staff, customers and the business. It can have a serious psychological effect, be detrimental to health and wellbeing, reduce staff retention, and damage business reputation which will lose custom and impact on bottom line. One method of reducing violence in the workplace and minimising its impact is to implement a specialist system to mitigate the situation. Through a combined use of CCTV, microphones, loudspeakers and PIR two-way communication with trained off site staff, most incidents can be prevented from escalating into harmful situations.
“Staff that are subjected to or even just witnesses of violence can be deeply affected. In a very serious situation, they may be injured and have to take an extended period of time off work. But even where it does not escalate to physical assault, threats and aggression can leave staff feeling vulnerable and afraid. They may even develop stress and anxiety about work, which can lead to other health concerns. Security and safety solutions such as StaffSafe work to not only minimise violence, but will offer staff much needed support, confidence and the assurance that they are safe and valued.
“Where a support system is not in place, work can become an environment where staff no longer feel safe. Staff retention levels can be affected dramatically as they can’t face working in such a negative environment. Not only is recruitment costly but new staff will require training and will take time getting up to speed, and of course this is all assuming an employer can find someone willing to work in a place associated with violence, aggression and a lack of support.
“Moreover, it’s not just potential new employees that come to view the company this way. Clients and customers are not going to spend time or money somewhere with a reputation for violence and not supporting its workforce. Neither will they risk potentially becoming victims of violence themselves. A system such as StaffSafe is as much about protecting staff and customers during instances of violence, as it is about offering support before, during and after the incident. Additionally, by integrating with and using CCTV and loudspeakers it can deter potential offenders before they act. This creates an atmosphere of comfort and security for staff and customers, which feeds into a business’s reputation and protects bottom line”.