Violence at Work – Training

Please Note: Protection against violence and aggression cannot be achieved and maintained by the provision of staff training alone. It is usually best to ensure management controls (i.e. Policies, Risk Assessment, Behaviour Plans, Reporting Systems, Safe Practice Guidance and Instructions and Crisis Procedures) are established – before deciding on the content of the training to be provided.

Is Staff Training necessary?

In some circumstances, adequate Guidance, Instruction and Supervision may mean that no “staff training” as such is required.

However, in many cases staff training would be considered “an essential reasonable step” and a failure to provide it would constitute negligence on the part of the employer as well as an offence under the Health & Safety at Work legislation.

For example, training that helps to reduce the risks of becoming a victim of violent assault or to avoid becoming the perpetrator of an unlawful assault may be considered a must for all employees whose workplace, role (or occupation) is, or can be, associated with:

  • A high risk of assaults on staff
  • Responsibility for manually handling and physically controlling people

What training do Staff need?

Staff Training needs will be identified from the Workplace Risk Assessment process, which should take into account the nature of the work processes being conducted, any history of incidents, the environment, the characteristics of the client group, working practice and procedures, the individual capabilities of each employee AND the kind of role in the safety arrangements that they are expected to play.

What might a Staff Training Programme include?

All employees need to know and understand:

a) The nature and extent of the risks being faced (whether from internal bullying or aggression from service recipients).

b) The employer’s policies, safety arrangements and safe practice procedures (and the reasoning underpinning them).

c) Common Law obligations and statutory health and safety responsibilities.

d) Their rights and responsibilities as individuals and as employees (including S44 Employment Protection Act 1996).

e) Other people’s rights.

f) The law in relation to the use of force.

g) What to report, when to report and who to report to.

h) The characteristics (and sensitivities) of the particular client group being serviced.

i) Warning & Danger signs – so as to be able to anticipate problems and recognise trouble brewing.

j) How best to behave if someone becomes aggressive – including avoiding “triggers”.

k) How best to respond to verbal abuse and threats of assault.

l) The importance of always maintaining a safe distance and an egress route.

m) How to summon support (verbally, by telephone, by radio, by panic alarm).

n) Where to go to get help (and be safe).

o) The availability of professional counselling in the event of victimisation to help to minimise the impact and protect against Post Traumatic Stress

Some employees will need more specialised training

Each employee needs only to be able and competent to carry out their particular role in the safety arrangements. However, where an employee’s duties include a specific responsibility they will need training in how to perform their task safely.

For example:

Those employees (supervisors and junior managers) who have been assigned the role of ‘resolving conflicts’ may benefit from training in:

  • How to communicate effectively with people whose ability to comprehend their situation is limited
  • How to de-escalate and defuse anger, hostility and aggression
  • What to do in the event these strategies fail or would not be of any practical benefit (e.g. The person attacks or is behaving in such a dangerous way they need to be physically restrained)

Employees assigned to carry out ’emergency procedures’ for ‘serious and imminent danger from violence’