Workplace violence and abuse: How to protect your employees

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), violence and abuse against retail staff is on the rise, reaching over 400 incidents per day. The effects of workplace violence – both physical and verbal – are far-reaching, causing increased absenteeism and staff turnover, low employee morale, and loss of sales. 

Everyone has a part to play in tackling workplace violence. Branch managers and team members should weave awareness into their everyday duties and follow measures put in place to protect them. 

Lone workers – including delivery drivers, cleaners can be at particular risk. It’s essential for business owners to consider all types of work scenarios when assessing potential threats across your operation. 

This blog provides practical steps to protect employees against workplace violence and abuse. To discuss your specific security challenges, speak to your Opus consultant. 

Show your commitment in promoting a safe workplace 

Commit to promoting a safe, respectful, and productive environment for employees and customers. 

  • Set out your zero-tolerance stance on workplace violence – and the actions you’re taking to tackle it. Explain what constitutes aggression and antisocial behaviour on your sites, and detail staff roles and responsibilities in preventing, addressing, and reporting it. 
  • Outline how to conduct risk assessments to pinpoint potential workplace violence hazards. Then use those findings to shape preventive measures, including upgraded security equipment, training programmes, and safety-focused changes to working practices and store layout. 

Build a safety-minded workplace 

Amended practices and low-cost changes to your physical working environment can safeguard team members and minimise the chance of violent incidents. These may include:

  • Upgrade lighting in and around your branch to allow staff to exit safely and identify offenders. 
  • To reduce cash theft risks, move tills away from customers, keep minimal amounts in each register, and store money in secure locations. Encouraging cashless transactions can also provide additional protection. 
  • Physically or electronically monitor high-risk entrances, exits, and delivery points.
  • Install emergency communication systems, such as panic buttons or intercoms, to help staff quickly alert colleagues to emergencies. 
  • Review staffing levels according to the activity and time of day, considering lone workers, cash handlers, and delivery drivers. 
  • Implement additional measures for lone and high-risk workers, including rotating hazardous jobs, implementing buddy systems, storing staff schedules on-site, and providing personal alarms for at-risk staff. 
  • Use signage to promote safe customer and visitor behaviour and underline your zero-tolerance approach to violence. Consider installing security equipment and CCTV systems to track and monitor antisocial behaviour. 

Train staff to recognise and handle the risks

Teaching your team to de-escalate and deal with aggressive behaviour is critical to ensuring their safety and wellbeing in your workplace.

Get personalised support from Opus

Every employee has the right to work without the threat of violence or abuse. If you’d like to strengthen your health and safety programme with targeted training and prevention measures, speak to an Opus consultant. 

We’re here to help on or 0330 043 4015.