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.