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Work-related violence
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related violence as:

Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work

This can include verbal abuse or threats as well as physical attacks. These pages explain what HSE is doing to address the issue of work related violence and provide access to a range of information.

Physical attacks are obviously dangerous, but serious or persistent verbal abuse can be a significant problem too, as it can cause damage employees’ health through anxiety and stress. For their employers this can represent a real financial cost - through low staff morale and high staff turnover. This in turn can affect the confidence of a business and its profitability. Further costs may arise from expensive insurance premiums and compensation payments.

All work-related violence, both verbal and physical, has serious consequences for employees and for the business they work for. For employees violence can cause pain, distress and even disability or death.


Estimates from the 2006/07 British Crime Survey (BCS) indicated that there were approximately 397,000 threats of violence and 288,000 physical assaults by members of the public on British workers during the 12 months prior to the interviews.

There were 6 404 RIDDOR reported injuries caused by violence at work during the financial year 2006/07. These reports comprise 4 fatal injuries, 932 major injuries and 5 468 non-major injuries that resulted in absence from work for at least three days. This compares to 6 624 RIDDOR reported injuries caused by violence in 2005/06.

Estimates from the 2006 Fit3 employee survey suggest that 16% of workers have been subject to abuse or violence in the last three months. For 67% of these victims this happened more than once and 66% of victims knew the person who was abusive or violent towards them.

The Fit3 employee survey estimates that 33% of victims of workplace violence or abuse do not report the incident. The most common reasons given for non-reporting included dealing with the matter themselves and feeling it was too trivial to mention. 14% believed management would not have done anything about it.

23% of respondents to the Fit3 employee survey say they know of no mechanisms in place to protect them from violence or abuse.

Trends in violence at work are difficult to interpret, with survey estimates tending to fluctuate from year to year. However, recent figures have been fairly stable.

The highest estimated rates of fatal, major and over 3-day injuries reported to HSE through RIDDOR were found in the minor occupational groupings of prison service officers below principal officer (1187 per 100,000 workers), police officers (sergeant and below) (478 per 100,000 workers) and bus and coach drivers (301 per 100,000 workers).

Most RIDDOR reported incidence of violence occurred in the broad industry grouping of services reflecting the occupations with highest rates.

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