Assaulted at Work - What are My Rights?
13 March 2020
If you have suffered an assault in your workplace and you were injured as a result of the assault then you may be entitled to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. This could be an assault by a colleague, customer, supplier, service user or anyone else in your workplace.
The damages awarded can include compensation for pain and suffering, rehabilitation, lost earnings and out of pocket expenses.
In England and Wales you have a right to a safe and secure work environment. Your employer has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to reduce any risk of violence or assault that is posed to you while you are at work.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK government body which oversees health and safety in the workplace. According to the HSE guidelines, there are several steps that employers must take to safeguard employees. These including assessing the risks posed, deciding how significant these risks are, and putting in place a clear management plan to prevent or control these risks.
If a worker is injured in a workplace assault and their employer was aware of the risks and/or did not take the necessary steps to address these, then the worker may be entitled to claim compensation.
Who is at Risk of Assault at Work?
Anyone who is in a workplace is technically at risk of being assaulted at work. As well as employees, those at risk include visitors, contractors, customers and service users.
There are some groups of people, however, who are at greater risk of workplace assault than others. These include people who:
- Work alone
- Work very early in the morning or late at night
- Travel within the community for work
- Handle medication (such as healthcare workers)
- Handle valuables (such as cash transporters or suppliers of expensive goods)
- Provide a service or can withhold a service
- Exercise authority, such as police officers or security staff
- Work with members of the public who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Work with members of the public who are mentally or emotionally unstable
- Work with people who are highly stressed or anxious
- Work with people who have learning difficulties
- Work with people suffering from dementia or similar conditions
What is Work-related Violence?
The HSE defines work-related violence as an incident in which someone is, "abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work." This can include physical assault or attacks as well as verbal abuse and threats.
According to the HSE guidelines on workplace violence, workplace assault occurs when the actions of one person towards another have the purpose or effect of affecting the person's health, creating a hostile work environment or harming their dignity.
Being assaulted at work can result in physical injuries and/or psychological injuries.
All workplace accidents, incidents or dangerous occurrences must be reported to the HSE under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). The HSE report that violent and aggressive incidents make up the third biggest cause of workplace injuries that are reported to them.
How to Make a Workplace Assault Claim
If you have been injured in an assault at work then it's important to get legal advice from a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor as soon as possible.
One of our Personal Injury Solicitors can discuss your circumstances with you, answer your questions, assess the situation and establish whether your claim has a reasonable chance of success. We will also be able to provide you with initial advice and guidance on the next steps for you to take.
We can deal with most workplace assault claims on a No Win No Fee basis.
It is part of the Co-op's ethos to provide help and support so as to prevent injustice. We will always strive to secure the best possible compensation and rehabilitation for our clients.