Workplace violence still too prevalent

2004

The incidence of workplace violence in the UK is falling but remains “worryingly high”, according to official figures released by the Home Office and the Health and Safety Executive.

The estimated number of incidents of violence experienced by workers in England and Wales fell to 849,000 in 2002/03. These include verbal abuse and threats as well as physical assaults.

Since a peak of 1,310,000 in 1995, the extent of violence at work reported in the British Crime Survey has been on a downward trend. The level is now similar to that reported in 1991.

Workers in the protective services, for example police officers, were most at risk of violence at work. Some 14 per cent of workers in protective services experienced violence in 2002/3. Health and social welfare associate professionals, including nurses, medical and dental practitioners were also at relatively high risk: 5 per cent experienced violence.

The survey also found that while more than eight out of ten workers in the protective services receive formal training in dealing with violence and aggression, that figure fell to just over half in other high-risk groups.

But it is this latter group that most fears violence at work. In particular, more than a third (36 per cent) of health and social services professionals are very or fairly worried about being assaulted or threatened. This compares with 16 per cent of all workers in contact with members of the public and 19 per cent who are very or fairly worried about being threatened.

According to the HSE, the fear of violence can represent a real financial cost – through low staff morale and high staff turnover. This in turn can affect the confidence of a business and its profitability. Further costs may arise from expensive insurance premiums and compensation payments. The incidence of workplace violence in the UK is falling but remains “worryingly high”, according to official figures released by the Home Office and the Health and Safety Executive.

The estimated number of incidents of violence experienced by workers in England and Wales fell to 849,000 in 2002/03. These include verbal abuse and threats as well as physical assaults.

Since a peak of 1,310,000 in 1995, the extent of violence at work reported in the British Crime Survey has been on a downward trend. The level is now similar to that reported in 1991.

Workers in the protective services, for example police officers, were most at risk of violence at work. Some 14 per cent of workers in protective services experienced violence in 2002/3. Health and social welfare associate professionals, including nurses, medical and dental practitioners were also at relatively high risk: 5 per cent experienced violence.

The survey also found that while more than eight out of ten workers in the protective services receive formal training in dealing with violence and aggression, that figure fell to just over half in other high-risk groups.

But it is this latter group that most fears violence at work. In particular, more than a third (36 per cent) of health and social services professionals are very or fairly worried about being assaulted or threatened. This compares with 16 per cent of all workers in contact with members of the public and 19 per cent who are very or fairly worried about being threatened.

According to the HSE, the fear of violence can represent a real financial cost – through low staff morale and high staff turnover. This in turn can affect the confidence of a business and its profitability. Further costs may arise from expensive insurance premiums and compensation payments.