Steps to take
Nursing staff encounter a range of potential hazards, often on a daily basis, but few are as distressing and difficult to manage as violence.
You have a right to be safe at work irrespective of whether you are based in hospitals, in the community or other healthcare premises. Employers are required by law to identify hazards to which staff are exposed and take all reasonably practicable steps to eradicate or minimise them.
If you have been physically assaulted at work:
- Contact the police immediately to report the assault. This is important, even if you have been assaulted by a confused patient. If you do not, then any later criminal injuries compensation claim (see below) will be refused. Your employer’s policy may offer guidance.
- Check your employer's sickness policy and see our sickness advice if you've been injured.
- If you are asked for a statement, read our guidance here.
- Read your employer’s policies on violence in the workplace and check for any specific processes in place that you should follow.
- Always report your concerns to your manager as soon as possible and document the assault on an incident form.
- Read our advice on personal injury and accident at work. While violence in the workplace is not an ‘accident’, similar principles apply in relation to reporting incidents and what action to take if you have suffered an injury. In some circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) if you were injured in England, Scotland or Wales. For injuries sustained in Northern Ireland contact Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. Contact us if you would like to discuss making a claim.
- Access emotional support. Being assaulted at work can be very traumatic and in addition to any physical injuries, you may be traumatised, stressed and anxious.
Once you have reported an assault, violence or the threat of violence to your employer, your employer should:
- Carry out an assessment of the risks to health and safety through a risk assessment (or review current risk assessments).
- Decide on the arrangements which must be implemented to prevent an assault occurring again and put in place protective measures.
- Provide information and training to employees e.g what measures need to be taken if caring for a patient with a history of violence towards staff.