According to research published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in February 2016, one in eight people are victims of violence in the workplace. Employees reported being pushed or punched or even spat on. In more extreme cases, some victims reported being stabbed.
The findings revealed that the healthcare sector experienced the highest number of violent incidents with 22% of workers reporting an encounter. Some may question whether the reported number of assaults is misleading when taking in to account those that go unreported.
Results from the NHS staff survey in March 2016 revealed that 40% of Newcastle NHS employees did not report violence they experienced in 2015. In contrast, Jane Sayer, Director of Nursing at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust believes her Trust, amongst others, has an open and honest culture with incidents reported accordingly, “We always encourage our staff to be proactive in regards to reporting any incidents.” She later added “We also believe that a high rate of reported incidents is a positive thing. It represents a culture of openness where staff feel they can raise issues.”
Some may argue that regardless of whether the reported number of incidents is true to life, it is still an issue that needs addressing.
Additional figures on violence against shop staff, published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in 2015 revealed a rise in violent incidents with a total of 48,530 reported last year. The survey identified the two most common triggers for violent and abusive incidents against staff as requesting proof of age and confronting customers suspected of theft.
Mr Hannett, General Secretary of Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) said: “Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shop workers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them.”
With the aim of identifying and preventing violence and shop floor theft, 85% of retailers were found to provide regular staff training. Can it also be debated that workplaces, including the healthcare sector need also to provide a form of emergency back-up such as personal alarms or mobile apps, should staff be unable to diffuse escalating situations?