02 June 2015
Physical Assaults at Work. Is Your Employer Liable?
It is generally accepted that any employee has the right to go to work safe in the knowledge their employer has taken all reasonable steps to protect them from sustaining injury while carrying out their duties.
This right comes into sharp focus with the situation many frontline staff find themselves exposed to as a result of the work they do.
The one thing nursing staff, ambulance crew, teachers and teaching assistants, private security officers, supermarket, shopping mall, and retail staff, along with a host of other professions, have in common, is they all interact with the general public or the clientele of the organisation they work for, on a regular basis.
It may seem odd to mention, but the mere act of interacting with the general public carries an element of risk in certain situations, as people can often be unpredictable.
We have all seen notices displayed on the transport network and in public buildings describing how a zero-tolerance policy applies to all verbal abuse or physical assaults. Furthermore, we have all walked past flashpoints when an employee or official is struggling to maintain order in the face of an angry member of the public.
However, in some situations, this can go much further when employees are subject to violence with ramifications that can often go beyond their recovery from the physical injury itself.
The question then is could that incident have been prevented in the first place? At Slater and Gordon Lawyers, a recurring enquiry from our clients is whether a claim for compensation can be made when they have been assaulted while simply going about their normal duties at work.
It is not enough for an employer to simply say, “You knew the risks when you took the job,” or, “It goes with the territory”. In such cases, we will look at what measures the employer took at the time to protect the individual concerned.
Did they receive the necessary baseline training, covering issues such as de-escalation and conflict resolution? Were any particularly volatile individuals with whom staff members may have come into contact, adequately risk-assessed, and were the results of such an assessment communicated down? Was there a generic risk- assessment in place for members of staff generally, to deal with threats of violence?
Was it appropriate for the person who committed the assault to be on the premises in the first place? What was the skill mix between qualified and non-qualified employees, and was there adequate experience at hand to have dealt with the problem when it arose? What is the lone working policy?
These are just some of the questions our employers’ liability experts will ask to determine whether your welfare and safety at work was compromised. If your safety was put at risk, we will do everything we can to assist you in bringing a claim.
If you have been physically assaulted at work and injured as a result, and you think your employers could or should have done more to protect you, please call our No Win No Fee Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation 24 hours 7 days a week on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.