Violence and aggression procedure

Issue 4 - July 2018

Purpose

Hampshire County Council (HCC) is committed to reducing and controlling the risks to its staff from violence and aggression whilst at work. This procedure sets out a structured way to determine appropriate systems, equipment and other control measures that can be used to reduce these risks. The aim is to secure compliance with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and to facilitate reporting under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). The matter may also need to be reported to the Police.
The Council will not tolerate deliberate acts of violence or aggression towards staff and will reserve the right to take legal action or request legal constraints against individuals, where this is necessary to protect staff.
This procedure only addresses the risks arising from violence and aggression.. The latter should be addressed through the normal risk assessment process. It does not apply to procedures put in place for purposes of safeguarding or the delivery of care, but will apply to risks to the persons delivering that care.
Violent or abusive behaviour by staff is regarded as misconduct and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.taff.

Scope

This procedure requires a manager assess the risks to their staff and others from violence and aggression arising out of the Council’s work activities.  It sets out an approach based on comparing the foreseeable risk of violence or aggression from a work activity; with the amount of control that the Council, manager or employee has over that environment or location.  It then suggests what additional controls might be used in such a scenario.  It can be applied to current or planned activities and can then be incorporated into the Council’s general risk assessment process and form.

The procedure is not intended to limit a manager’s authority to go beyond the suggested controls when their risk assessment concludes they will not be adequate.  At times it may not be possible to reduce the risks to an acceptable level and, in such cases, a manager is perfectly within their rights to decide not to allow a particular work activity to go ahead.

Appendix 1 provides suggested control measures for work activities, categorised according to the level of foreseeable risk and the extent of control over the working environment, as a guide to help managers and simplify the risk assessment process.  The list is not intended to be exhaustive, and managers are free to use additional controls relevant to their activities, their staff, their locations, etc in accordance with their Departmental guidance.

This procedure replaces all previous corporate violence and aggression policies and procedures.

Terminology

The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of work-related violence is:

“any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work."

Aggression would be non-physical behaviour which is considered threatening or implies a risk of such violence.

Procedure

Categorisation process

Managers should categorise work activities according to the level of foreseeable risk with existing control measures in place, and compare that to the extent of control they have over the working environment.
When initially considering the level of risk, managers should identify individuals or groups of people who could foreseeably exhibit violent or aggressive behaviour and with whom staff are likely to have contact (NB that might be physical contact, or verbally aggressive via the telephone, email or some other form or electronic media). These could be service users, such as persons using a site or facility, school pupils and care home residents; or other members of the public, such as service users’ relatives or friends. In addition, they should also consider the nature of the activity and whether that will increase, or in fact reduce, the potential for violent or aggressive behaviour. Examples might be a public event where alcohol has been consumed and could change people’s behaviour; the timing or location of an event; events where there is the potential for public disorder; where “bad news” is being delivered or a person’s expectations may conflict with the service being delivered, etc.
The level of control the manager or employee has over the environment in which contact with these individuals or groups of people is taking place should then be considered. For example, the level of control is likely to be very good in a secure unit or office environment; moderate in a country park or passenger transport vehicle; and poor in a service user’s home.

Control measures menu

The manager can then compare these two categories using the table in Appendix 1. This provides a menu of potential control measures for each category or scenario. Whilst some control measures are only listed in certain categories, all are available and managers are authorised to overrule these menu choices where they consider it necessary. The intention is to eliminate or reduce the risks from violence and aggression. Ultimately, managers can choose not to deploy staff if they feel the risks are unacceptable.
An example of an activity where the foreseeable risk of violence and aggression is deemed high and the level of control poor, could be staff working in the community undertaking visits to service users sites. This would therefore be categorised as High Risk, and Poor Control. In accordance with Appendix 1 control measures could include de-escalation training, no lone working, visiting with the Police, etc. Control measures in HCC offices would normally be limited to secure work areas and public access zones, as despite the foreseeable risk of violence potentially being classed as medium, the Council has a high degree of control over the site. However, if the site were opened up for a public event, then the degree of control would be reduced, and further controls such as awareness training might be considered necessary.

Risk assessment record

Once suitable control measures have been identified, they should be implemented and recorded in the relevant risk assessment. A standard form for recording the significant findings can be found in Appendix 1 of the Corporate health & safety procedure for risk assessment. The assessment should be reviewed regularly, whenever the circumstances change or when there has been an incident involving violence or aggression. Appropriate records should also be kept to show what information, instruction and training have been given to staff.

Reporting incidents

All incidents of violence or aggression should be reported, and appropriately investigated, using the corporate online system. Guidance on this can be found in the Corporate health & safety procedure for accident/incident reporting. Appropriate recommendations from incident investigations should be implemented to prevent recurrence.
“Acts of non-consensual violence done to a person at work…” are classed as accidents under RIDDOR, so if a person is injured in such an incident, it is important that you report it using the corporate health & safety accident reporting system.
Your Department Health and Safety Adviser will report it under RIDDOR in accordance with the Council’s procedures on accident reporting.

Support and Assistance

Staff who have experienced violence or aggressive behaviour should be offered support and assistance as soon as is reasonable after an incident. Free support and assistance is also available from Employee Support.

Guides
HSE advice on work related violence
HSE guidance on dealing with violence at work
Employee Support (Employee Assistance Programme)
Appendix 1 - Control measures menu
Printable version of procedure
The full procedure is available as a printable document: Corporate health & safety procedure - Violence and Aggression - Issue 4 - 2018-07