Tackling workplace violence

It can happen anywhere

This checklist aims to help employers develop their own violence prevention policies and procedures, and help employees better understand the strategies and initiatives they can use to protect themselves. Research suggests that an effective violence prevention policy is multi-faceted and incorporates a range of strategies after considering individual, organisational and situational variables.

In developing multi-faceted violence prevention policies, employers should consider:

  • the various risks, including what employees perceive to be risks
  • the seriousness of the risks (eg by collecting data on violent incidents)
  • if and how the risks differ for different employees (eg males and females, younger and older workers)
  • any work-related risks employees face when off-duty
  • cultural issues that may pose a risk to workplace safety
  • the various strategies that exist to respond to the risks (eg at the system, industry or workplace level)
  • the extent to which other sectors and the broader community can be involved in responding to the risks and preventing workplace violence
  • obligations under Work, Health and Safety legislation and relevant industry policies and guidelines

In implementing violence prevention policies, employers should:

  • ensure staff understand the risks and the policy, and how they can access help if they are feeling threatened
  • ensure other interested parties, such as community members, are aware of the policy and the behaviour that will not be tolerated
  • create a culture in which violence is not considered ‘part of the job’ and where reporting of violent incidents is encouraged and supported
  • ensure the policy is consistently enforced, and that mechanisms and processes are in place to respond promptly to violent incidents and other unacceptable behaviour
  • ensure that policies are accompanied by work practices that improve the wellbeing of staff (eg ensuring staff do not regularly work long and/or unsociable hours)
  • develop a system for monitoring the effectiveness of the policy.