Why employers should pay more attention to safety at work

Saskia Garner explains how a new set of guidelines will help tackle rising levels of violence in the workplace

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has launched Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety to help employers and employees make workplaces safer for everyone. The charter provides a personal safety framework to help organisations embed and implement a workplace personal safety culture. Through simple step-by-step guidelines, it aims to mitigate the increasing levels of violence and aggression faced by employees.

Our mission is to ensure people are safer – and feel safer – from violence and aggression. We strive to prevent what happened to Suzy Lamplugh, who disappeared without trace in the course of her work, happening to anyone else by campaigning, educating and supporting people to live life safe. In creating Suzy’s charter we have brought together employers, employees, unions and the police to achieve a workable, solutions-oriented approach to this serious challenge. 

Why businesses should sign up

Violence in the workplace is a widespread, endemic issue that affects all sectors. An estimated 374,000 adults of working age in employment experience violence at work annually, including threats and physical assault.

The human costs of personal safety incidents for employers are far-reaching and can amount to as much as £6,500 for non-fatal injuries and £12,300 for ill-health per case, because of loss of productivity, insurance claims, legal fees and health and rehabilitation costs. In the case of fatalities, this amount can soar to almost £100,000. The impact on quality of life can be even more damaging, with victims of violence and aggression suffering long-term negative effects on their health and wellbeing, as well as loss of confidence and an inability to return to work. 

What’s in the charter?

Suzy’s charter offers a set of cross-sector guidelines that make it simple for organisations to fulfil their obligations to keep workers safe. Implementing the charter’s simple steps can go a long way to ensuring that personal safety risks are identified and mitigated where possible. Working across sectors to combat violence in the workplace has clear benefits for employers and employees: the risk of physical and psychological harm to staff is minimised, and organisations can avoid corporate litigation, negative publicity, loss of talent and increased insurance costs.  

The key points of the charter are:

  1. Embed a workplace personal safety culture
  2. Implement robust risk assessments
  3. Provide robust reporting procedures
  4. Provide personal safety training
  5. Implement a tracing system
  6. Have a system in place for colleagues to covertly raise the alarm
  7. Offer staff a personal safety alarm according to their risk assessment
  8. Regularly consult on and review safety policies and procedures with employees.

It is unacceptable for anyone to face violence and aggression in any form while at work. We hope this charter will help employees and employers create safer workplaces and we encourage all organisations to work through the charter to make these important changes.

For the full charter and advice on any aspect of the charter and its implementation, visit the Suzy Lamplugh Trust's website.

Saskia Garner is policy and development manager at the Suzy Lamplugh Trust