Managing risks

You must eliminate or minimise the health and safety risks of workplace violence and aggression so far as is reasonably practicable. This process is known as risk management and involves: 

  • identifying the hazards  

  • assessing the associated risks 

  • implementing control measures to eliminate or minimise risks 

  • regularly reviewing control measures to ensure they remain effective.  

You must do these things in consultation with your workers and any HSRs if you have them. 

The national Guide on preventing workplace violence and aggression has information about risks and how to identify, assess and control them. 

Identifying hazards 

To identify the potential for violence and aggression at work, you need to gather information about the hazards in your workplace and assess the associated risk.  

To find out if it could happen at your workplace, you should: 

  • observe work practices for risks of exposure – for example, working alone, contact with the public, or working after hours  

  • walk through the workplace and look for low visibility in service areas, entries and exits for workers after hours, long customer queues and wait times  

  • observe customer behaviour and how people interact with workers, including lower level but more frequent behaviours 

  • see if there are already issues between co-workers, clients, patients or others could become violent  

  • look at workplace culture to see if violence or aggression is accepted as normal behaviour 

  • think about how demanding the work is, physically and mentally 

  • observe how leaders, workers and others interact and if there are any poor relationships, cultural or community issues leading to workplace tension 

  • check if workers avoid being around certain people  

  • survey workers about incidents or behaviours 

  • survey clients to find problems with service delivery  

  • identify external factors that may lead to violence or aggressive behaviour impacting your workers – for example, gatherings of people like protests or people affected by drugs or alcohol  

  • refer to industry standards and guidelines which may highlight risk factors for your industry  

  • examine local crime statistics  

  • check hazard and incident reports and workers’ compensation claims.  

Controlling risks  

 To manage health and safety risks you must: 

  • provide a safe physical and online work environment 

  • implement safe work systems and procedures 

  • have clear workplace policies, and 

  • provide workers with information, training and supervision 

Choosing the right control measures depends on your workplace.  

Talk to your workers, HSRs and health and safety committees, if you have them. 

The Guide on preventing workplace violence and aggression has information on practical steps you can take to control the risks.