Research perspectives

Research finds majority of retail staff have suffered workplace abuse

Research by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has found that two-thirds of UK retail workers have been exposed to violence or aggression in the workplace. 85% of respondents said customers had been the perpetrators and 31% said work colleagues. 83% reported experiencing verbal abuse, and there were also a high number of incidents of physical assault (15%), sexual harassment (14%), verbal threats (38%) and bullying (28%).

In contrast the research found that fewer than 18% of respondents had received personal safety training, only 34% knew of a written personal safety policy, and just 21% knew of reporting procedures for personal safety incidents.

Asked what would help, 27% of respondents said that having security staff on site was the most effective personal safety measure, followed by panic buttons (8%), personal safety training delivered in person (4%), having a written personal safety policy (3%), and using body-worn cameras (3%).

The findings accord with the latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales 2017. In the year to April 2017, 24% of all violent incidents took place on work premises, equating – according to the Health & Safety Executive – to 1.3% of working adults being the victims of one or more violent incidents at work.

As a result of the findings the Trust has launched a Charter for Workplace Safety. It’s include embedding a workplace safety culture, implementing adequate risk assessments, providing all employees with appropriate safety training, and having a system in place for all employees to discreetly raise an alarm.