With the easing of the lockdown restrictions in England, it is important for businesses to keep their staff safe against abuse.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) recently published its ‘2021 Crime Report’ revealing that 89% of those working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse, with over 1.2 million incidents reported over the last year. The report also identified instances of abuse linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with threats to staff around face coverings, social distancing, and queuing. No doubt there will have been similar instances of COVID-related abuse to front of house staff at hospitality venues and offices etc.
There are some practical steps you can take to help mitigate the risk and manage instances of abuse, including:
— Ensuring all incidents are recorded in your “near-miss report” (this documents incidents that are “near misses” or events that did not cause harm on this occasion, but has the potential to cause injury or ill-health).
— Near misses, accidents, incidents and dangerous occurrences should be analysed by the Manager and Head Office Safety team to (i) identify what improvements or additional measures are needed, (ii) plan to prevent the incident from happening again, (iii) identify areas where your risk assessment needs reviewing (see below) and (iv) improve risk control in your workplace in the future.
— Risk assessments should be updated with any additional precautions – this may include enforcing a strict rule that no lone worker challenges individuals for failure to wear a face-covering etc. and instead have a process for managers or security teams to handle this issue.
— Learnings from the reports should be shared and used to train to your staff.
— Consider displaying any public notices about your policy on tolerance of abuse to staff.
— Any necessary improvements should be put in place.
Our Regulatory team can help you understand your health and safety obligations when it comes to reporting accidents and investigations, to mitigate the risk of incidents in the workplace and/or protect your position should an incident occur and is investigated. In the meantime, we wish all businesses remobilising today a successful reopening.