Which Type of Violence Is Most Common In the Workplace?

25 May, 2023

There is a worrying increase in the number of violent incidents in the workplace in the UK, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Union of Shop, Distributive, and Allied Workers (Usdaw). Over 688,000 violent incidents took place up to 2020, of which 299,000 were physical assaults.

60% of the incidents were caused by strangers to the victim, and among the 40% of incidents where the offender was known, they were likely clients or associates of the workplace.

The majority of incidents resulted in little or no physical injury, but 12% of incidents resulted in extremely serious injuries, including stab wounds, broken bones, broken teeth, or nose bleeds.

Which Occupations Are Most At Risk of Workplace Violence?

While anyone can be a victim of workplace violence, some occupational groups are far more likely to be targeted.

Police and security officers are at the highest risk at 8.4%, six times higher than the average risk of all occupations. Health and social workers are at a higher than average risk, at 3.9% and 3.3%, while retail workers face increasing threats and abuse. According to the British Retail Crime Survey, 165,000 violent incidents occurred during 2019-2020, or one every minute of an average shopping day.

Anyone whose work involves dealing with the public is at risk, with an average of 1.4% risk across all occupations.

Impact of Workplace Violence on Businesses. It’s in companies’ best interest to control the threat of violence in the workplace. Uncontrolled or regular workplace violence not only carries the risk of injury, death, trauma, and debilitation for workers and customers but the risk of lower morale and motivation, compensation payouts, and even legal costs to defend the company against accusations of negligence in Tribunals and Courts.

Your business may find that staff are harder to recruit and retain, that your PL Insurance Premiums keep rising, and that your working relations generally become poorer. If not managed, these incidents can lead to permanent closures.


Types of Violence In the Workplace

Workplace violence can be physical, verbal or psychological. It can be inflicted by colleagues, customers, or even management. Workplace violence can occur in various industries and sectors, and each industry has its own set of unique risks and threats.

Council offices

Council offices may be subject to assaults from vulnerable people in reactions to stressful situations. This type of violence is often perpetrated by individuals with mental health issues or those experiencing financial or housing-related stress. Council employees may also face threats from angry customers, such as homeowners disputing council tax bills.


Healthcare workers face a range of violent incidents, from verbal abuse and physical assaults to sexual harassment and even homicide. Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals are often subjected to violence by patients or their family members who are frustrated with the care they receive. In some cases, violence is also perpetrated by drug-seeking patients or those with a history of violence.


Banks are at risk of robbery, which can be carried out with weapons such as guns or knives. Robbery attempts can be highly traumatic for employees, and many banks invest in counter screens and other security measures to protect their staff.


Retail stores

Retail workers may face violent attacks from customers or shoplifters. These incidents may range from verbal abuse and threats to physical assaults. In some cases, workers may be injured or killed during robbery attempts.


How Safety Screens Can Help

Safety screens can be used to protect employees and create a safer working environment by presenting a physical barrier between the employee and the perpetrator.

A safety screen can be used at a reception desk to protect the employee from an irate customer. In convenience stores, the screens can protect employees during robberies or violent incidents.

Because the screens are bullet-resistant and impact-resistant but transparent enough to allow for normal business operations, employees can go to work confidently, knowing that they are protected from physical attacks.

While these screens can’t avert verbal attacks, employees will feel safer knowing that there is a barrier between them and the person carrying out the attack.



Workplace violence is becoming all too common in the UK, and employers must make every effort to ensure that their staff are protected. Safetell has been helping employers create safer workspaces through a range of physical protection products, including security screens, for more than 30 years.

If you are interested in making your workplace a safer place for all, contact Safetell today.