Here are 14 things you should do if you have been assaulted at work.
If you have experienced an assault at work, call us on 01423 788 538 to speak to an expert solicitor.
- Find safety
Violence incidents at work can cause a variety of injuries – both physical and psychological. If you have been assaulted at work, immediately remove yourself from the area where the assault has taken place. Ensure that your attacker cannot cause you any further injury. At this time, it’s likely that you are not thinking clearly; that your adrenalin is pumping; that your fight-or-flight senses are kicking-in. Don’t consider taking revenge. Self-defence is permissible. Find safety. Look after yourself first.
- Seek medical attention
Once you are safe, you need to take care of yourself. At this stage, compiling evidence for a potential compensation claim should be far from your mind. Do a full body audit of any wounds that you may have. As your fight-or-flight response may still be in full swing, you may be unaware of some of the injuries that you have sustained. If other people can help you, get them to check you over. If other colleagues are in the vicinity, ask that they get the First Aid box. If your injuries require immediate hospital attention, call 999 immediately.
- Report the attack to the police.
For some people who have been assaulted at work by strangers, perhaps, say, in an armed robbery, your natural instinct is to report the assault to the police – just do it. For others who might have been caring for someone who has attacked them, reporting the incident to the police may not even cross your mind. For those who don’t want to report the assault to the police, we encourage you to report all violent incidents to the police for three reasons:
- First: if the police do involve themselves, then it may stop the assailant from doing it again, thereby reducing the risk that you or a colleague will be assaulted by them again.
- Second: usually in order to bring a Criminal Injuries Compensation claim, you need to have reported the violence to the police quickly after the assault and then assisted the police in pursuing the matter as far as is required of you in order.
- Third: the police may help to gather evidence about the attack which might be of assistance to you in any of the three types of compensation claims you might choose to bring.
- Report the assault to your manager
Unlike accidents at work, assaults at work aren’t routinely added to the accident book. Therefore, ensure that your manager knows about the attack. Tell them orally, but also follow up with a letter or email. Demand that the incident is recorded in the Accident Book and that an investigation is carried out. If you have been caring for someone who attacked you, do record the assault in the resident’s/patient’s/pupil’s notes. This is because it’s imperative that whoever cares for the person next is aware of the specific circumstances behind the attack on you. If, by reporting the attack to your manager, you are treated badly, then you may have a whistleblowing claim. In addition, if your employer has failed you either causing the situation when were attacked, or by not dealing with the situation following the attack, then you may have a constructive dismissal claim. Before making any decisions impacting upon your employment, we recommend that you seek dedicated employment law advice.
- Collect evidence of the assault.
Once you are safe and have tended to your injuries and contacted the police, you should consider collating evidence which proves the happening of the assault and, crucially, why the assault happened. Treat the area where the attack happened like a crime scene. Take photos and/or video of the area. Make sure that any CCTV is retained. Write down exactly what happened whilst it is fresh in your mind. Collect a list of witnesses. Write down who you speak to and what was said. If you want to pursue a compensation claim against your employer, then it is helpful to obtain evidence which indicates that the assault was predictable. For example, if you were attacked by a patient, resident or pupil, and a colleague tells you that something similar had happened before, or nearly happened before, then you need to write down this key information, as it could be the difference between winning or losing a No Win, No Fee assault at work compensation claim.
6. Keep a diary of your symptoms.
Unlike in accident at work cases, if you have been assaulted at work this can cause different symptoms, particularly from a psychological/mental health perspective. Record, either in a diary or in a smart phone, how you were feeling, what medical appointments you had and what medication you take. If you do bring a No Win, No Fee assault at work compensation claim, at some point you are likely to see a medical expert in order to obtain a medical report on your injuries. As compensation claims can take some time to complete, in our experience we find that some clients forget about some of the symptoms. By having a diary of your symptoms, you are likely to ensure that the medical report is a comprehensive account of your injuries.
7. Consider submitting a grievance.
If you are of the view that the assault could and should have been prevented, then you may want to submit a grievance to your employer. It could be that the risk of violence was known to your employer, but that this information wasn’t passed onto you, which might be quite distressing to discover. It could be that a colleague has failed to complete the correct documentation about previous incidents and, if they had done so, you would known what to have expected and therefore you could have prevented the injury. By submitting a grievance, you are sending a strong signal to your employer that you do not tolerate being assaulted at work and that they should implement measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen to you or anyone else again. Your suffering shouldn’t be in vain.
8. Check that your employer has filed a RIDDOR to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Generally, an employer needs to file a report known as a RIDDOR when someone has been off work for 7 days due to an incident at work. If you have been off work for 7 or more days because of an assault and your employer won’t submit a RIDDOR, we recommend that you contact the Health and Safety Executive yourself.
9. Demand a new and improved risk assessment.
Because you sustained an injury it is likely that the risk assessment (if there was a risk assessment) was defective. A new risk assessment should be completed by your employer to ensure that lessons are learned.
10. Demand better training
If the assault happened because either you or a colleague had not been trained, or not properly trained, then you need to ask that all the appropriate members of staff receive the correct training for the specific job. For example, we often find that many care assistants haven’t received training in how to look after patients or residents with autism or dementia and had they been properly trained, an injury could have been prevented. In addition, if you or a colleague ought to have received control and restraint or self-defence training, then you should ask that your employer provides this training so that either you can spot a potentially violent incident stirring or that once it starts, you know how to deal with it.
11. Demand more staff.
Often an assault at work happens due to staff shortages. Following an assault, now is your time to ask for more staff. Ensure that your request is in writing. If you don’t get a response, chase your employer. If you don’t succeed in getting more staff, do ask your employer in writing why this is the case. If you take the view that by your employer not increasing staff numbers that another assault will take place in the future, then spell this out to your employer in writing.
12. Demand better Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Sometimes if a member of staff had been provided with PPE, then the injury may not have been sustained. Often, if an assailant can see that you have a functioning panic alarm, then they may not attack you. Either way, there is no harm in having better PPE, and it is often low cost to your employer.
13. Record your losses and care and assistance.
Almost immediately after an assault at work you will have sustained financial losses and received care and assistance. You need to record exactly what money you have spent/lost because of the assault and how many hours, what type of care and the identity of the carer who has helped you. As a No Win, No Fee assault at work compensation claim may take some time to pursue, you don’t want to under-settle your claim because you failed to collect all the information. We suggest that you take photographs of any receipts, such as hospital parking charges.
14. Contact a specialist Assault at Work Compensation Solicitor.
We would suggest this, wouldn’t we? But we at Truth Legal don’t draft wills, convey houses, deal with divorces nor prepare Terms and Conditions: we are workplace lawyers. You should instruct lawyers who understand what your job was like and how the assault could have been prevented. If you have been assaulted at work, you can have a confidential and no-obligation consultation with a specialist assault at work lawyer, who will set out all your options.
With our HQ in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but with a presence in York, Manchester and London, we are ready to help anyone who has been assaulted at work.
From one of the UK’s most read legal blogs.