Violent assaults and threats are the fastest growing health and safety concern in the workplace, new TUC research shows.
The figures, from the 2002 TUC survey of 5,000 union-appointed safety reps, show that the top five workplace health and safety concerns are:
• overwork or stress - 55 per cent
• repetitive strain injury (RSI) - 37 per cent
• display screen equipment - 34 per cent
• back strains - 31 per cent
• violence and threats - 30 per cent
The top four hazards have headed the biennial poll since 1996, but this is the first year that violence has been ranked as one of the top five workplace hazards (it was eighth in 2000).
TUC general secretary John Monks said: "Stress is still the biggest health and safety problem facing workers, and RSI and back strain are major problems too. But the increase in worries about violence, which reflects actual increases in the number of assaults on workers, is especially troubling.
"Too many workers face the threat of violence when they go to work, and in some jobs, the only question is ‘when’ will you get attacked, not ‘whether’. Workers are facing a rising tide of violence and employers haven’t got to grips with the threat. Individual acts of violence are random, but violence itself is all too predictable in some jobs. That means the risk of violence can and should be assessed, managed and reduced."