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UpdatesSep 09, 2021

Don’t get mad, get prepared

As our major business centres start to slowly reopen over the next few months, the risk of workplace violence and anti-social behaviour may present as a real risk to your workers.

The risk of workplace violence is a foreseeable risk for organisations that have public-facing roles including emergency services, hospitality, distribution, health services and retail. There are bound to be points of friction caused by government-imposed restrictions on non-vaccinated members of the public and the steps that each organisation will have to implement to manage those requirements. That is, any processes to question and challenge the vaccinated status of members of the public are likely to result in potential conflict.

What should you do?

The first thing to understand is whether your staff could at any point be exposed to confrontational or threatening members of the public. The next step is to then consider what procedures you should have in place to control those risks, and whether existing processes are adequate.

It may not just be members of the public that pose these risks, but intruders or trespassers, particularly if you are involved in any cash-handling or delivery of valuable items. The risk is heightened if your staff have to work remotely or in isolation, including at night.

Be aware that threatening behaviour can also come from within your own business. This tends to be less common, particularly now that a lot of work is being performed remotely. But personal disputes between colleagues that may or may not be work related can lead to anti-social behaviour at work. So, respect in the workplace training, including anti-bullying policies, are important. The policies, which all staff should be trained in, will provide the base line from which you can control the potential outbreak of violence in the workplace. Additional policies and procedures around the use of alcohol are also very important.

Key steps to reduce the risks

Steps to undertake now include:

  1. Undertaking a risk assessment of potential sources of violence and determining the best way to control those risks. This should be done through consultation with your staff.
  2. Implementing risk controls, which could range from building physical barriers to protect against intruders or aggressive members of the public, as well as electronic security protection.
  3. Putting in place a policy that sets out the potential sources of violence in your business and the steps that will be taken to prevent it. And be sure to train staff on how to manage potentially violent situations.
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