Five things you need to know about handling conflict in the workplace if you want to protect your staff and avoid an expensive prosecution and adverse publicity.
A recent Magistrates Court prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive last month (January 2012) demonstrates the costs for organisations which fail to invest in training aimed at addressing work place violence, refer to article below.
Social care workers exposed to violence and aggression
A social care organisation has been fined for exposing workers to the risk of violence and aggression.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation at Dimensions (UK) Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support services for people with learning disabilities, after a support worker was kicked in the eye by a client on 31 December 2009.
The investigation revealed that between March 2009 and December 2010, Dimensions did not have adequate processes in place to control the risk of workers being exposed to violence and aggression.
Dimensions (UK) Ltd, in Reading, was fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
So how can organisations be sure they are compliant with current Health & Safety legislation?
1. To comply with current Health & Safety legislation employers must carry out a Risk Assessment and have Policies & Procedures in place to address potential workplace violence.
2. The risk assessment must be carried out by a competent person. In reality this is usually carried out by individual/individuals who have personal knowledge with the working practices and any potential high risk duties that employees are responsible for carrying out.
3. Policies and Procedures must be put in place with control measures to address the identified issues to reduce risk as far as is practical.
4. If training issues are identified e.g. the need for Personal Safety, Conflict resolution/Management, Breakaway Skills or Physical Intervention Skills training this must be addressed.
5. A system/ procedure for recording Critical Incidents must be put into place.
Continual assessment must take place to establish that the policies and training are having the desired effect in reducing incidents of workplace violence.
Staff must be encouraged to complete a critical incident form for every incident even if the incident appears trivial or it was a near miss.
These reports must be reviewed on a regular basis and further control measures should be put in place if ongoing issues are identified.
Should an incident occur which results a serious to an employee the enforcing government body the Health & Safety Executive will be checking that the above criterion has been adhered to?
Failure to address any of the five above stages will normally result in a prosecution.
As can be seen from the above prosecution failure to invest in Conflict Management training can be costly for an organisation and lead to bad/adverse publicity.
During the trial at Newcastle Magistrates Court particular reference was made to the fact that due to lack of training the employee was not able to recognise the triggers which precede a violent assault and that no control measures had been put into place after previous incidents and near misses.
Sources: Workplace Law http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2012/coi-ne-00812.htm
Here at Brooks Jordan training services we are finding that more and more organisations are now sending their staff on Personal Safety, Conflict Management and Physical Intervention training courses even before they actually take up their current employment duties which will obviously give them and their staff much greater protection.
This is actually mandatory now in many organisations e.g. the Security Industry.
Prior to commencing employment as a door supervisor or event steward employees will need to attend an accredited level 2 award (City & Guilds 1884 Conflict Resolution or equivalent).
For more information about training in Workplace Violence. Personal Safety, & Conflict Management visit our web site: www.brooksjordan.co.uk