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Violence and Aggression in the Retail Environment

BY Matthew Ramsey
Health & Safety

Two recent surveys undertaken by the Union of Shop, Distributed and Allied Workers and by the Home Office identify that between 2016 and 2017 incidents of violence and aggression against retail employees showed and increasing trend of between 40% and 50%.

The National Federation of Independent Retailers also identified that Retailers are not reporting many incidents of violence and aggression to the Police, with the USDAW survey identifying this as “because they don’t think it will make a difference”.

Violence and aggression can:

  • Lead to poor morale.
  • Make it difficult to recruit and keep staff. 
  • Mean extra costs with absenteeism.
  • Result in higher insurance premiums and compensation payments. 
  • Cause pain, distress, injuries and even disability and death. 

Physical attacks are obviously dangerous but serious persistent verbal aggression, or threats, can also damage employees health through anxiety and stress.

Employers have duties to:

  • Undertake a risk assessment and implement suitable control measures (e.g. CCTV, Security Guards, no lone working, altering opening hours etc.).
  • Protect the health, safety and welfare of employees.
  • Ensure employees are trained to report instances of violence and aggression to Management.
  • Support employees exposed to violence and aggression.
  • Investigate violent incidents and take appropriate action.
  • Where appropriate, report instances of violence and aggression to the Police.

The Health and Safety Executive have published a guidance document, HSG133 Preventing Violence to Retail Staff, which can be accessed using the link below:

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