Hierarchy of control for workplace violence

Certificate IV in Occupational Health and SafetyThe identification phase of violence is imperative to preventing violence within a workplace, as you want to be proactive and not reactive. The assessment phase looks into the magnitude of the problem and set priority for risk control. The next phase is to determine the most appropriate control measure or measures that have to be put into place to eliminate violence.

The object is to eliminate the risk, or minimise it, to the point where it is no longer an issue. The hierarchy of control should be applied to control risk of violence, similar to other hazards within the workplace; this includes: elimination, substitution, isolation, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment.

Examples of the hierarchy of control can be applied to a scenario, consider a 24/7 convenience store within a high- crime area. Armed men often rob the store at night, when there are no other customers around, and the store clerk is alone.

Elimination: To eliminate the risk of the convenience store clerk coming into contact with a robber, the store should cease late-night trading times, when robbery is more common.

Substitution: This may include the store closing late at night, but providing customers with a vending machine stocked with product, so that they have access to their product late at night if required. This means that they are still supplying customers, but are minimising the risk of violence.

Isolation: A bulletproof window between the customer and staff member, minimising the risk of injury to the staff member, isolating the staff member.

Engineering controls: The use of engineered controls such as a remote-control door, not allowing people that appear suspicious in, video cameras, safe buttons and, also, the use of drop safe where workers are unable to open. These controls are used more as deterrents for robbers.

Administrative controls: Administrative controls include rostering on more staff, training workers in how to decrease the risk of injury in a hold up, regular communication with workers to ensure they are safe and, also, the use of security if required. These controls are low level but can decrease the risk of violence.

Personal protective equipment: This is the lowest level of control; this includes a bulletproof vest, shields and protective clothing. These controls should be considered a last resort.

Businesses, generally, are reactive when it comes to violence within the workplace, and do not want to take the time that it takes to consider the implications of violence. Once an incident has occurred, they are more likely to take a step back and consider their hierarchy of control options and analysis, the types of risk their business can face. Being proactive and looking at your options before violence occurs is optimal, and means that no one within your staff is injured. If you want to discuss your options and the level of risk your business faces on a day-to-day basis, please contact us as we would be more than happy to discuss how to minimise risk of violence in the workplace – be proactive not reactive.