The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK national independent watchdog for work-related health and safety, defines work-related violence

‘Any incident in which a person is

  • abused
  • threatened 
  • assaulted

in circumstances relating to their work’

This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks. Workplace violence can be defined as covering the following:

  • Verbal or written threats – any expression of intent to inflict harm;
  • Threatening behaviour – such as shaking fists, destroying property or throwing objects;
  • Harassment – any behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person and that is known or would be expected to be unwelcome. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, or other inappropriate activities;
  • Verbal abuse – swearing, insults or condescending language; and
  • Physical attacks – punching,head butting,pushing ,slapping,nipping or kicking,throwing objects at,driving a vehicle towards.
Man pointing finger at another man who has both his hands open signalling non-aggression

Organisations have a legal responsibility to understand the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974 which places a legal duty on employers to ensure,

  • So far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of employees, and to ensure that employees and others are kept safe

It further states that under the Act employers have an

  • Obligation to ensure any potential risk of work-related violence is eliminated or controlled

If you have five or more employees you must have a written health and safety policy statement, setting out how you manage health and safety in your organisation’.