Recording violent or aggressive incidents

Information on the importance of recording violent or aggressive incidents in the workplace

Why you need to record violent or aggressive incidents

In some sectors or organisations, reporting can be seen as unnecessary or stigmatising. For this reason, it is important to ensure that managers and employees understand why reporting of all types of abusive behaviour is necessary.

A robust reporting system is crucial for preventing violence at work. It will help establish measures that will protect employees in the future. While carrying out or reviewing risk assessments, you should review past incidents. Risk assessments will only reflect an accurate picture when regular reporting is taking place.

It will also help you identify trends, and plan for specific times of the year, days of the week, or common operational situations where violence and aggression to members of staff are more likely to occur.

Keeping reporting simple

Violence and aggressive behaviours can be caused by many factors. The system should encourage employees to report all incidents. You need to create a simple reporting system that allows you to understand the factors that caused the incident.

It is important to remember that when you implement or improve, your reporting system there might be an initial increase in the number of incidents being reported. Higher reported incident rates mean that employees are involved in the process, are aware of the dangers, and are participating in protecting themselves and their colleagues at work.

Low incident rates do not necessarily mean that good practice is being followed. It could mean that reporting is not happening regularly enough.

To encourage employees to report incidents, you should clearly explain:

  • the reporting system itself
  • the reasons for reporting
  • the steps you are going to take to prevent reoccurrence of similar incidents
  • statistics of incidents per team or department and what it means for them
  • resulting changes to risk assessments
  • resulting changes to procedures or methods of working
  • what help and support are available

Information you should gather

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests you gather the following information in a reporting form as a minimum:

  • an account of what happened
  • the circumstances in which the incident took place
  • details of the victim, the customer and anyone else involved
  • the outcome, including working time lost to the employee and organisation

You can use our near-miss investigation form to record incidents.