One in eight people are assaulted at work
The poll, carried out by YouGov for the TUC and released today to coincide with the start of Heartunions week, reveals that 12% of people have experienced work-related violence – such as being pushed or spat on, or being punched or stabbed.
With more than 31 million people in employment, the TUC is concerned that this could mean nearly 4 million people have experienced violence at work at some point in their career.
Of those who have experienced violence in their workplace, one in five (20%) report it happening more than 10 times.
Medical and health workers were the biggest group to say they have faced work-related violence (22%), followed by workers in education (12%), hospitality and leisure (11%), retail (9%) and manufacturing (6%).
The TUC has calculated this could mean as many as 870,000 medical and health workers, 470,000 workers in education and 430,000 workers in the hospitality and leisure industry could have experienced violence while carrying out their jobs.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workplace violence is far too common in the UK. These disturbing findings show that millions of people are likely to experience violence and intimidation at some point in their working life – with A&E staff, nurses, teachers, hotel receptionists and shop workers particularly at risk.
“There is no excuse for physically assaulting someone. Workplaces must be safe for everyone.
“All over the country, union reps play a key role in stopping violence at work and supporting union members who are victims of abuse. We need strong unions working with employers to combat unacceptable behaviour and protect workers – and anyone worried about violence in their workplace should join a union today.”
The TUC has recently published new advice on what companies should do to crack down on workplace violence. The guidance says:
· Employers must treat threatening language and verbal abuse as workplace violence. Verbal abuse may develop into physical abuse if it is not challenged.
· All workers should be briefed on how to report violent incidents.
· There should be an agreed reporting form, written in simple language and which includes the incident time and location, a description of assailant, and a description of any injuries suffered.
· Forms should be available for all workers for whom English is not their first language.
· The worker involved must be given the necessary time to complete the report form in full, as soon as possible after the incident.
· Workers should be given feedback about what will happen next, along with a timescale for action. It is important that staff see action being taken as this will encourage more staff to report similar incidents in the future.