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Governance, Legal & Planning Division
Tower 1, 6th Floor (TW1 6.01)
LSE
Houghton Street
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WC2A 2AE

Email:  Health.And.Safety@lse.ac.uk|

Guidance to LSE employees and managers on recording incidents of verbal or physical assault at work

Introduction

This note provides guidance on how to record incidents where you are subject to verbal abuse and/or physical assault in the circumstances related to or arising out of your work.

It does not cover incidents arising from private disputes between individuals, which should be dealt with under the School's disciplinary procedures|.

Incidents or disputes between managers and their subordinates or between colleagues come within the scope of the School's policy on Harassment and bullying or Grievance Procedures and so are not covered in this guidance note.

This guidance note does not cover incidents involving verbal abuse or assaults on students, unless the assault is specifically related to or arising from the way the School carries out its undertaking e.g. poor security leading to a student assaulted by an intruder.

In circumstances where a student is behaving in a violent or abusive manner towards fellow students, the "Procedures for working with students who give cause for concern" should be followed and advice sought from the Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser in OLD G.23 or by email to j.sedgwick@lse.ac.uk|.

The School is a safe environment where physical assaults on staff are extremely rare. Any abuse, even at a low level, is disturbing and should not be tolerated. It is essential that incidents are recorded so that the School can establish the extent of the problem and enable managers to undertaken risk assessments to identify measures to avoid or prevent any reoccurrence.

If you are physically assaulted or subjected to verbal abuse in circumstances relating to your work you must notify your manager who will complete a violence at work form| (PDF).

Definitions

Violence at work

The Health and Safety Executive's definition of violence at work "Incidents where a person is abused, threaten or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work" is used throughout this guidance note.

Physical assault

Examples of physical assault include but are not limited to:

  • being struck with or without a weapon,
  • pushed or shoved,
  • being restrained,
  • clothing pulled, tugged or torn,
  • being spat at,
  • threaten with a weapon.

Verbal abuse

Although defining verbal abuse is less straight forward, any incident which causes you to feel threatened, intimidated or anxious should be recorded on the School's violence at work incident report form. Your perception of the incident should be paramount, you should not have to accept verbal abuse as being "part of the job".

Counselling and support

If you have been subjected to verbal abuse or physical assault your manager should offer you appropriate support, including an opportunity to talk through what has happened with them and/or your colleagues or safety representative. You should be given details of counselling services| available and time off to attend counselling sessions if required.

Guidance for managers

  1. The HSE recommend that employers should keep records of all incidents of violence at work as defined above, i.e. including verbal abuse and threats. This is because of the potential adverse effect on the health and well-being of an employee subject to verbal abuse. Recording incidents of verbal abuse, often referred to as "low level" violence can indicate situations which could escalate and result in a physical assault. 
  2. If one of your staff informs you that they have been assaulted or subject to verbal abuse, you must record the incident on a violence at work form. A copy of the completed form should be retained for your records and the completed form should be sent to the Health and Safety Team in Room TW1 6.01, Houghton St. campus. In circumstances where there may be issues with security arrangements the Health and Safety team will liaise with the Head of Security. 
  3. If one of your staff is absence from work or unable to fulfil their normal duties for more than 7 days as a result of a physical assault relating to their work, you must notify the School's Head of Health and Safety (ext 3677 or Health.And.Safety@lse.ac.uk) so that a notification can be made to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 
  4. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require employers to undertake risk assessments of their work activities to identify circumstances which could lead to harm (including exposure to violence as defined by the HSE) and take appropriate steps to control these risks. 
  5. All reported incidents of verbal abuse or physical assault should be investigated by the manager of the employee who has been abused or assaulted. Incidents of physical assault resulting in injuries necessitating first-aid or medical treatment must be reported immediately to Security by telephoning 666. Investigations should be undertaken with the aim of identifying measures to prevent a reoccurrence. The investigation should be proportionate to the circumstances.

The sort of issues to be considered include:

  • Physical location or layout of the working area, e.g. low or narrow counter which allows a potential perpetrator easy access to staff; location of panic buttons.
  • Unclear or inadequate or lack of queuing control systems, which causes people to be frustrated if they feel that others are "jumping" the queue and being seen before them.
  • Lack of clear signage, guidance or information on services provided so that people have unrealistic expectations.
  • Lone working - staff working on their own in offices after hours or at weekends. Staff should make sure that Security are aware of their location in these circumstances and know how to raise the alarm and summon help if required.
  • Arrangements for handling and carrying cash, which could place employees at risk of injury during an attempted robbery.
  • Precautions put in place when interviewing potentially 'violent' persons, such as not interviewing them on their own or ensuring assistance is immediately available.
  • Have staff received training on recognising potential aggressive behaviour and defusing aggression?
  • Do records of previous incidents indicate any pattern e.g. days or times when abuse or physical assaults are more likely?

Where appropriate consult the victim and any Trade Union or employee health and safety representative on measures to prevent a reoccurrence.

Incidents where an employee is assaulted by a student

Where it is alleged that the perpetrator of verbal abuse or physical assault is a LSE student, a copy of the incident report form should be sent to the appropriate Dean of Studies who will consider whether action should to be taken against the perpetrator under the Disciplinary Regulations for Students.

Where there is reason to believe that the perpetrator poses a potential risk to other employees or students or themselves, the "Procedures for working with students who give cause for concern" should be followed and advice should be sought from School's Mental Health and Well Being Adviser (MHWBA) in OLD G.23 or by email to j.sedgwick@lse.ac.uk| . The MHWBA will be able to advise on how other departments or sections in the School who may come in contact with the individual should be alerted to any potential threat.

Further information

If you require any further information please email Health.And.Safety@lse.ac.uk|

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