Hot topic: Violence against retail workers, part two

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​A survey by The British Retail Consortium found that more than 100 retail workers were attacked every day at work last year

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) has warned that attacks are becoming more severe and violent. So with statistics showing that violent crime across the UK is rising, what must employers do to protect their employees?

Bella Stephens-Ikpasaja, internal marketing manager at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says:

"Suzy Lamplugh Trust believes in an approach to personal safety that is consultative among employees and works towards embedding a personal safety culture at all levels of the organisation. We are developing Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety to guide employers and employees through important safety steps such as risk assessments and tracing systems.

"Comprehensive safety policies are key, as is training, but these must be tailored to each individual workplace and the specific work carried out by employees.

"Allowing employees the time and support to report personal safety incidents is also key to embedding a workplace safety culture, and essential for identifying risks as experienced by frontline and lone workers. That way, patterns of violence and aggression can be identified and mitigation put in place to avoid serious incidents and even fatalities."

Keely Rushmore, employment law partner at SA Law, says:

"Violence against shop workers is a significant issue, and some industry groups have called for a root and branch review of the criminal justice system. Whether such drastic action is needed (or indeed will happen) remains to be seen, but employers should ensure that they take steps to protect their employees.

"It’s highly advisable to have a written policy that addresses preventing and dealing with workplace violence, and to ensure that staff receive training on it. The policy can cover how to help prevent attacks and what to do in the event of – and following – an attack. Taking practical steps to deter violent attacks before they occur, rather than ‘picking up the pieces’ afterwards is also important. This includes implementing clearly signposted security and surveillance systems.

"In the unfortunate event of an attack on an employee, it’s crucial that employers ensure the wellbeing of all affected staff. It’s important to meet with them, providing pastoral support and taking medical advice as needed. Such support may be needed on a long-term basis, bearing in mind that violent incidents will often affect a victim for months, if not years."

Read the first part of this hot topic

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