Control Measures for Workplace Violence and Aggression

Violence and Aggression is a hazard that must be managed in the workplace. As with all hazards a risk assessment must be carried out and appropriate control measure must be put in place. Employers and employees must not consider violence and aggression as part of their job. In some work environments a zero-tolerance policy towards violence and aggression can be adopted. To assist employers in managing this hazard control measures such as those listed below can be implemented. Control measures can be organisational, managerial or environmental:


  • Create and promote a culture within your organisation that does not tolerate violence and aggression and creates a culture of respect for your staff. This can be done through posters and information campaigns, training and communication.
  • Develop an incident reporting procedure and encourage reporting to track incidents of Violence & Aggression. Communicate learnings to staff members and adjustments to controls if necessary
  • Ensure waiting rooms/public areas have signage and posters stating that no level of violence and aggression directed towards staff will be tolerated, and request respectful behaviour towards staff
  • Provide employee’s with training, information and instruction on customer service and dealing with aggressive or abusive customers
  • Run and promote safety campaigns that focus on Violence and Aggression towards employee’s


  • Provide a safe and secure working environment; well illuminated, secure access/egress, safe layout (e.g. avoid having areas where staff can become isolated with an aggressive customer) restrict access to potential objects that can cause harm (eg. Sharps, fuel/explosives, heavy goods).
  • Provide adequate, well-illuminated parking for night staff under surveillance of CCTV.
  • Provide adequate protective measures for keyholders, and staff members tasked with closing and locking up facilities
  • Install physical barriers and security systems. Use service counters as barriers where possible.
  • In high-risk areas, avoid or remove any potential missiles
  • Provide a safe area (place of refuge) for employees to retreat in the case of an incident.
  • Control access and egress of visitors e.g. sign-in/sign-out facility, key-code systems, buzzer system, manually controlled door systems etc
  • Chairs should be of the continuous bent metal tube form rather than four “metal spikes” form.
  • If knives are essential to the workplace, they should have a smooth handle without moulded grips or notch and the blade should be non- tapering and bend when pushed along its axis; they should be stored in drawers and or area not visible to the public;
  • Waiting rooms should be designed and laid out to take account of potential long waiting times. They can have reading material or a television and an ordered system of queuing such as numbered tickets or expected waiting time displayed.

Management/Systems of Work

  • Remove the motivation or incentive for violence and aggression e.g. Reduce the amounts of cash held on site, don’t cash up or count money in public view, reduce stock of valuable items.
  • Have a senior member of staff available to assist junior members of staff with customer grievances
  • Consider the requirement for communication systems to allow staff to keep in contact eg. Headsets, radios etc
  • Where possible avoid lone working, especially during high-risk tasks such as cash handling, handling expensive goods, opening or closing
  • Where possible, implement cash-free systems such as contactless payments, credit cards, time locked safes etc. Time lock safes can prove useful where cash is held and signs outlining this should be on public display
  • Promote and develop discretionary measures in order for staff to provide an effective complaints and discretionary procedure if required
  • Ensure employees are fully aware of what controls measures are in place to reduce the risk of violence and aggression
  • If necessary, have on site security in place
  • Ensure employees are aware of what to do or how to act in situations of violence and aggression e.g. Safe positioning, de-escalation techniques etc.