Employers have a legal duty to protect their employees and anyone else potentially affected by their undertaking from work-related health and safety risks. This includes protecting people from non-consensual acts of violence, or abuse or threats that arise from, or in connection to, work.
Violence can impact an organisation negatively, making it difficult to recruit and retain staff, lowering morale and undermining the organisation’s public image. Violence can cause distress and pain to individuals.
People may have different responses to abuse and threats, with some suffering more anxiety than others.
This policy is limited to incidences of non-consensual violence, abuse and threats arising out of, or in connection to work.
The University recognises that other forms of non-work related violence and abuse falling outside of this definition, including domestic or gender based violence and abuse, sexual abuse and other unwanted behaviours could occur on University premises or impact members of the University community. These issues fall outside of the remit of this policy. Where the perpetrators of such acts are members of the University community then these will be addressed under the University’s Dignity and Respect policy.
The University’s Support and Report tool is available to all members of the University community to report any dignity and respect concerns. Alternatively, people can report issues in confidence to Human Resources or Student Services as appropriate where they feel comfortable to do so.
The University can also provide support and advice for members of the University who are experiencing violence or abuse, harassment or other unwanted behaviour. This includes the provision of counselling services and other advice and guidance to support people experiencing these issues.
This policy uses the Health & Safety Executive definition of violence; that is 'any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work'.
The University will manage its activities in such a way as to minimise the risk of employees and anyone else potentially affected being subjected to work-related violence or abuse or threatening behaviour.
The University takes a zero tolerance approach toward violence
Risk assessments will be produced for all work activities which there is a reasonably foreseeable risk of violence and suitable control measures will be implemented in consultation with relevant staff
Any incident involving threatening behaviour, verbal abuse or physical violence should be reported to the University's Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing (SHEW) using the accident reporting system.
Anyone acting in a physically violent way may be subject to security intervention, and possible criminal investigation depending on the type of incident and any injury caused
Any member of staff acting in a threatening or physically abusive manner may be dealt with by their line manager in accordance with the University’s disciplinary procedures
Contractors who initiate work related violence may be escorted off site and banned from future University contract work. The incident will be reported to SHEW email@example.com and to the employing contractor via the University’s contract manager
The Vice-Chancellor (VC)
The VC has the overall day-to-day responsibility for health and safety matters at the University. The VC delegates responsibility for undertaking aspects of these duties through line management and identified roles.
The following people are identified as having responsibilities (in addition to any other responsibilities under other health and safety policy) for the management of work-related violence risks in those areas, and for those relevant persons, that fall under their control:
Line Managers are responsible for making sure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that:
suitable and sufficient risk assessments are carried out for all work activities where there is a risk of violence or abuse
risk assessments consider people who may be especially vulnerable to the risk of violence or abuse, such as young people or expectant or nursing mothers
suitable and sufficient control measures are put in place eliminate the risk of work related violence. Where this is not reasonably practicable, then control measures should reduce the risk of such issues to a tolerable level
suitable training, instruction and supervision is provided for employees believed to be at risk of work related violence
arrangements are put in place to monitor the effectiveness of risk assessments and any associated control measures including any instruction, training and supervision
further advice is sought from Human Resources in respect of disciplinary action for any staff initiated violence or aggression
Employees are responsible for:
reporting any incidents of work-related violence, that they either experience or witness, to their line manager. Alternatively, these can be reported via the University’s Health and Safety Incident Reporting system
not doing anything which purposefully may inflame a potentially abusive situation
following any instruction or training given in relation to work related violence and will, as far as reasonably practicable, conduct themselves in a manner so as not to escalate any incident of work related violence
Students are responsible for:
not doing anything which may inflame a potentially abusive situation
following any instruction or training given intended to reduce the risk of violence or protect their wellbeing
students should report any incidents of work-related violence via the University’s Health and Safety Incident Reporting system
University Contract Managers
University Contract Managers will:
make it clear within contract specifications and induction training that violent or aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated
ensure that any incident involving violence or aggression which involves an employee of a Contractor is reported to SHEW via the University's Incident Reporting system and to the employing contractor for further action as necessary
University Health and Safety Committee will be responsible for: Monitoring and reviewing this policy. Reviews will be carried out every two years from the date of approval.
Further information and resources
Date of last review: Policy agreed at UHSC 7 March 2023.
Date of next review: End of March 2025.