WORKPLACE VIOLENCE POLICY | EK RECRUITMENT

EK Recruitment - Sydney Labour Hire and Recruitment Specialists

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PREVENTION OF WORKPLACE VIOLENCE POLICY & GUIDELINES STATEMENT

Objectives

The objectives of this policy are to:

  • provide a framework for the prevention and management of workplace violence
  • promote zero tolerance to workplace aggressive behaviour and violence
  • promote a safe working environment for all workers
  • promote strategies for the management of workplace aggressive behaviour and violence.

Policy Statement

Management will identify, assess if necessary and control the risk of workplace violence.  In order to achieve this, ‘organisation name’ will have a violence prevention program in place. This program will focus on the elimination of violent behaviour. Where risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced. Strategies to reduce risks must be undertaken using a consultative framework with input from workers.

All managers and supervisors are responsible for promoting a workplace free of aggressive behaviour and violence, this would include the management of incidents involving aggressive behaviour and violence.

Workplace violence impacts on workers and their ability to perform their work as well as impacting on their families and the community as a whole.  It should be recognised that workplace violence is potentially a criminal offence and police action will be taken when appropriate.

Prevention of Workplace Aggression and Violence Policy and Guidelines

Workers have the right to work in an environment free from aggressive behaviour and violence. Clients and others also have the right to receive services, in an environment free from risks to their personal safety.

Workers who believe they are subjected to workplace violence and aggression are encouraged to report such incidents to their supervisor. All complaints will be treated seriously and will be investigated promptly.

Support mechanisms will be made available to all workers, through an Employee Assistance Program or the internal support network.

It is important to note that a worker or manager does not have the right to retaliate physically to an act of assault unless the responding action is deemed to be self-defence and is of equal intensity or less.

Violence towards workers and others is a significant work health and safety (WHS) issue, and just like other aspects of WHS, all workers have a role in, and responsibility for, maintaining a safe workplace.

Definitions

Zero tolerance: a complete refusal to tolerate aggressive behaviours. It is important to differentiate unacceptable workplace aggressive behaviour from that of behaviour demonstrated as a result of a medical condition such as dementia, hypoxia or brain injury, for example.

Workplace aggressive behaviour: incidents, perceived or real to individuals, when they are abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of, or in the course of their employment, involving an explicit or implicit challenge to their safety, health or wellbeing.

Workplace violence: an action or incident that physically or psychologically harms another person. It includes situations where workers and other people are threatened, attacked or physically assaulted at work.

Non-physical violence such as verbal abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour, may also significantly affect a person’s health and wellbeing. Threats may be perceived or real and there does not have to be physical injury for the violence to be a workplace hazard. Workers may be affected by workplace violence even if they are not directly involved.

Physical violence: the use of physical force against another person or group that results in physical harm. It includes, but is not limited to, pinching, biting, pushing, spitting, slapping, kicking, beating, shooting and stabbing.

Psychological violence: the use of power against another person or group that results in psychological harm or an inability to develop professionally. This includes, but is not limited to, verbal abuse, suggestive behaviour, threats of physical abuse, intimidation and bullying.

Zero Tolerance

The zero tolerance response means that in all violent incidents, appropriate action will be taken to protect workers, clients and visitors from the effects of such behaviour. In order to create and nurture a culture of zero tolerance, certain messages need to be communicated and regularly reinforced to managers, workers, clients and others.

These strategies should be specifically designed to meet local needs ensuring that managers, workers, clients and visitors clearly understand that workplace aggressive behaviour and violence is unacceptable. Crucial to the success of creating a zero tolerance culture is the active elimination of internal violence and aggression.

Introduction

Workplace violence is recognised as a significant workplace hazard. Numerous personal and business risks are associated with exposure to violence including physical and emotional trauma, low morale, high staff turnover, financial costs, lost productivity, lessened public opinion and litigation. Work health and safety legislation requires employers to take all practical steps to eliminate as far as possible workplace violence risks. If a violent incident does occur, there should also be response procedures in place to minimise the impact of the event.

Organisations have a duty of care under the Work Health and Safety Act, to provide and maintain a safe work environment where workers and others are not exposed to hazards and can work without risk of injury or harm to themselves and others.

EK Recruitment aims to meet its responsibilities by:

  • providing an overarching policy on the prevention of workplace aggression and violence
  • providing information and guidance to workers and managers
  • identifying a framework for grievance resolution
  • providing a directory of education and training programs
  • outlining relevant support mechanisms including internal support networks, such as contact officers, grievance officers, peer support officers and an Employee Assistance Program
  • identifying risk management approaches
  • ensuring that all clients have a positive behaviour support plan developed and that this is implemented at all times.

These guidelines provide information for managers and workers on how to promote a working environment free from workplace aggression and violence and how to resolve complaints if incidents are reported.

A fundamental principle underpinning the development of the policy and guidelines is that workers have the right to work in an environment that is free from workplace aggression and violence.

Training in Prevention of Workplace Aggression and Violence

EK RECRUITMENT will provide training in prevention of workplace aggression and violence and the management of violent incidents and attendance is mandatory.

Risk Management Approach

A risk management approach to workplace aggressive behaviour and violence must be adopted. Thorough risk assessments of all services will be undertaken to identify any risk of workplace violence and to implement appropriate control strategies such as positive behaviour support plans.

Warning signs of Conscious Violence

Warning signs/ Cues of violence Responses that may help diffuse aggression
Repeated succession of questions Appear calm, self-controlled and confident, confirming that you are addressing their concerns.
Using another language in an aggressive manner Identify language origin and locate interpreter to assist.
Using obscenities or sarcasm Do not match their language
Shouting Ask for information with a calm voice
Replying abruptly or refusing to reply Calmly confirm the received information back to the assailant
Rapid breathing Breathe slowly and evenly
Pacing Attempt to sit them comfortably
Clenched fist or pointing fingers Do not fold your arms or clench your fists in reaction
Invading your personal space Maintain a comfortable distance
Staring Maintain normal, but broken eye contact
Tight jaw with clenched teeth Open hands to the assailant
Shoulders squared up and dominating Stand to the side.

Consultation

Consultation is pivotal at all stages of the risk identification, assessment and control process and an integral part of good management. Consultation with health and safety representatives, security experts, workers and union representatives should occur to identify risks and effective solutions.

Incident reporting

All services will implement a local system for reporting and recording violent incidents that involve workers regardless of whether or not the incident results in an injury or lost time or is notifiable. The objective of local incident reporting is to identify trends and develop strategies to reduce and prevent these.

Workers are to be aware of reporting requirements, and be actively encouraged and supported in reporting all violent incidents. A readily accessible, simple to implement reporting procedure will encourage reporting, as will prompt, sensitive and appropriate follow up.

Responding to Violence

Immediate response options

Every effort should be made, via the risk management process, to prevent violence occurring. However, in the event that a violent incident does eventuate, it is important that workers are aware that they do have a range of response options. These responses will depend on a number of factors including the nature and severity of the event, whether it is a client, visitor, coworker or intruder and the skills, experience and confidence of the worker(s) involved. Responses may include calling for backup, security or local police.

When a client becomes violent, consideration should always be given to the possible causes of the behaviour. A violent outburst may be secondary to a number of medical conditions. After ensuring workers and other clients’ safety, assessment and prompt action should be of primary concern.

EK RECRUITMENT will have in place local procedures and protocols to support the range of available options. Procedures must be communicated to workers, and workers should be provided with training to enable them to exercise the options appropriately and effectively, particularly those involving restraint.

Post incident response

When the incident is concluded workers should be provided with clear guidelines regarding support services (if they have not already been provided), and the option of time out from duties. Appropriate psychological and operational debriefing should be set up and coordinated.

In addition a management review of the incident by appropriate staff and experts such as a security consultant should be included. The purpose of a review is to critically analyse how the incident was managed with a view to setting new standards for management of future incidents.

Incident reporting

Violent incidents must be reported and recorded using the appropriate form and forwarded to the manager or supervisor.

Depending on the nature of the incident, it may also necessitate reporting to external agencies such as Safework NSW,  Police or other appropriate external organisations.

Incident investigation

The most effective way to prevent a recurrence of an incident is to determine why it happened and if it was preventable. Incident investigations should:

  • be undertaken promptly by the manager or supervisor in consultation with health and safety representative and/or relevant workers
  • not apportion blame
  • be conducted in a supportive and non-judgmental way
  • identify underlying root cause/s and contributing factors
  • consider all sources of relevant information for example witnesses, incident reports, relevant work policies and procedures, the working environment, equipment used, level of supervision at the time, relevant training provided and expert advice including occupational health and safety or risk management staff
  • include an operational review if relevant
  • identify and recommend control measures to prevent a recurrence.

Working at External Locations

Risk management

Workers working in the community face a particular set of risks associated with working in an environment not under the control of the organisation and away from the immediate support of their colleagues. Refer to the Home Visiting Policy for guidelines on violence prevention strategies.  Where the threat of violence presents itself, workers should retreat and/or seek further assistance, for example police if required. Where retreat is not an option that is the worker is trapped with an assailant, all non-physical strategies have failed and the individual is under imminent or actual attack, evasive self-defence may be the only option.

Any incident, whether threatened or actual needs to be reported as per local reporting procedures, investigated and solutions proposed and implemented as far as practicable to prevent a recurrence. If a worker is assaulted, the matter should be reported to the police.

Conclusion

These guidelines have identified the importance of our zero tolerance to workplace aggressive behaviour and violence approach and the requirement to train managers, and workers to recognise and manage potential aggressive situations. The adoption of a risk management approach to violence that can be implemented in different work environments has been identified, concluding with the process for resolution of complaints if incidents are reported.

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EK Recruitment - Sydney Labour Hire and Recruitment Specialists