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It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Assaults on Staff

I was speaking at our health and safety seminar today. An annual gathering of safety representatives to update them on current developments and to agree priorities for the coming year.

We used the seminar to launch our annual survey of violence at work in Scotland. Sadly the survey revealed an increase of over 3000 assaults when compared with last year, with more than 28,000 assaults on staff  recorded for the year 2009-10.

Any act of violence on a member of staff going about their business of providing vital public services is completely unacceptable. To have over 28,000 in a year is shocking, especially when these are just the recorded incidents. This shows that many employers, particularly in local government, have to do more to protect their staff. Where rigorous monitoring and active preventative measures are in place, this has resulted in improvements for the health and safety of our members. But some employers are clearly failing to monitor violent assaults effectively, and as a result are failing to do enough to protect their staff. 

We had one council who couldn't find their figures and others that could only produce long lists of incidents that they clearly haven't analysed. The Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives published guidelines in February titled “Managing Occupational Violence in the Workplace”. Not enough councils have reviewed their policies to reflect that guidance.

These figures also emphasise the need for the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill introduced by Hugh Henry MSP.


  1. Dave
    You seem to produce lots of figures about Violence in the workplace and call for more laws to protect staff however
    Does UNISON ever practically support members to take legal action against employers who flout Health and Safety Law in relation to carrying out workplace risk assessments and providing relative support and training based on risks identified ?
    Why not more Collins v First Quench proceedings
    G man

  2. Well we do win millions of pounds every year in damages for members from negligent employers. However, sadly the law of Delict often does not provide an effective remedy. For that reason awareness, prevention, effective workplace measures, and yes, better law are important.