Violence at Work – HSE’s Role
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for the regulation of almost all the risks to health and safety arising from work activity in Britain, including work-related violence (WRV). Northern Ireland has its own health and safety bodies analogous to the HSE.
To help employers to manage the risks of WRV the HSE has published free general guidance.
Enforcement of the Health and Safety legislation in relation to Work-Related Violence has been to all intents and purposes negligible. The fact is that the HSE has for some time been under resourced to be able to effectively police the way employers protect against workplace related violence. In effect, HSE are depending on employers to do the ‘right thing’ and on employees to sue for damages/compensation in the civil courts if they suffer ‘injury’. The unfortunate consequence is that hundreds of thousands of employees are being sold well short of their statutory right to a safe system of working and the public are unlawfully being put at risk of violence in our hospitals; mental health settings, residential homes, night clubs, transport systems, hotels, bars, nightclubs, shops and shopping centres, schools, colleges and universities, prisons and youth offender institutions, probation service, clergy, et alia.
The problem is that until employers and their insurers come to recognise the need to prioritise safety against violence (in all its forms), the situation is likely to continue.