Personal Safety in the Workplace


Do you or members of your team work alone? Do you or members of your team pay house visits? Do you or members of your team deal with potentially aggressive (either verbally or physically) customers?

Then this training is for you – providing you with techniques and advice on how to use code words, alarms, body language, personal awareness methods and even practical self defence skills specifically designed to keep you safe in a variety of workplace situations.

RIDDOR 1995 Regulations came into effect in the UK on 1 April 1996 and included an additional definition of an accident which is “an act of non-consensual physical violence done to a person at work”. The management and reporting of acts of violence is also mandatory under the Management of Health & Safety Regulations 1999 and staff training to mitigate the risk of violence is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which confirms that an employer “must provide such Information, Instruction, Training and Supervision, so as to ensure the health and safety of its employees.”

In 1997, the National Audit Office produced a report on “Health & Safety in the NHS” and stated that “training should be given to educate staff on how to avoid or defuse potentially violent situations and how to respond appropriately to incidents of violence.”


But in 2003, a further National Audit Office report into “Protecting NHS Hospital and Ambulance Staff” stated that “the level of reported incidents of violence and aggression against NHS staff working in acute, mental health and ambulance Trusts has increased” and went on to state “nurses are up to four times as likely as other employees to experience an incident” and “the estimated direct cost of work-related accidents due to acts of violence and aggression is likely to be at least 69 million a year. This excludes staff replacement costs and the human costs, such as stress, low morale, lost productivity and high staff turnover, which are known to be substantial.”

The report summarised its findings by affirming “Effective staff training is crucial in tackling violence and aggression.”

Ten years after this report was produced, a survey by UNISON Scotland ? into assaults to public service workers during 2012 showed that the problem of workplace violence continues to increase (up 20% from the previous year, 2011).

The report states “The experience of our membership and the results of crime surveys inform us that the most vulnerable workers are not necessarily emergency services workers – all workers who deal with the public are at risk. Care workers face twice the national average risk of assault and nurses four times. There has also been a huge increase in assaults in schools, both for teaching and non-teaching staff. A recent report on “Behaviour in Scottish Schools” found that 35% of secondary heads and teachers had experienced abuse or violence over the past year.”

The report concludes “As we continue to stress, however, whatever the figures, and however they are collated, it is still clear that there is an unacceptably high level of violence being perpetrated against public facing staff in Scotland.”

    • The effects of violence in the workplace can be devastating;
    • Higher incidents of customer complaints
    • Higher risk of violent incidents involving injury
    • Increased staff absence due to injury and stress
    • Reduced staff morale
    • Reduced staff efficiency and performance at work
    • Increased staff turnover
    • Increased recruitment and retention costs
    • Lowered reputation of the organisation


HSE Health And Safety Training Scotland

In many organisations, staff are unwilling to report violence in the workplace for fear of losing their jobs, for fear of being blamed for “allowing” it to happen or fearful that they simply will not being believed.

This unwillingness to report violence in the workplace has a negative effect as a report into NHS violence against nursing staff concluded ?:

“Implementation of effective strategies to minimise violence and aggression will not be possible until credible data are available regarding the incidence and nature of violence in the clinical area.”

If current training is as “ineffective” as UNISON’s report demonstrates, isn’t it time to change the training?

The Scottish Centre for Personal Safety offer bespoke Personal Safety in the Workplace courses for you and your staff. We can provide theory only sessions to suit your needs or a mix of theory plus practical de-escalation / self defence skills guaranteed to help your staff feel safer and more confident in verbally or physically aggressive situations.

Unfortunately, there is a fear amongst some employers that they may open themselves up to litigation and court action by teaching their staff how to escape a workplace attacker using physical self defence methods. They fear the attacker may sue the staff member or their company for defending themselves – but has this ever actually occurred?

The answer is “No”. There has never been a successful case in the UK where a worker has defended themselves and the assailant has sued.

But how long will it be before the staff member sues their employer because the training they gave to deal with a violent customer was ineffective or, in a worse case scenario, the staff member was told not to defend themselves at all?

For workplace violence and its knock-on effects of low staff morale, high staff turnover, high absenteeism, etc. to decrease, it is our opinion that practical, efficient, self defence techniques must be included.

  • We will liaise with you to provide bespoke Personal Safety in the Workplace training which will;
  • Inform your staff of your workplace safety policies and procedures
  • Identify workplace safety risks thereby enabling staff to identify, assess and effectively respond to potential
  • threats to their safety
  • Provide a range of practical strategies to reduce workplace safety risks and maximise the safety of your staff
  • Develop problem-solving and assertiveness skills
  • Reduce the risk of victimisation
  • Reduce stress / injury related absenteeism due to workplace violence
  • Enhance workplace wellbeing
  • Increase self confidence


Violence at Work – A survey of employers in Scotland, UNISON Scotland, 2012.
Reporting incidents of violence and aggression towards NHS staff; Ferns T, Chojnacka I (2005); Nursing Standard. 19, 38, 51-56. 3 February 2005.