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Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety

Some two-thirds, 66 per cent of retail staff in a survey stated that they had experienced violence or aggression in the workplace, according to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The lone worker safety charity surveyed over 1,000 retail workers about their personal safety at work. Of those who gave details about their experiences, 83pc reported receiving verbal abuse, but also reported were other types of violence and aggression, including physical assault, verbal harassment, verbal threats and bullying.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust works with a spectrum of public and private sector bodies. It’s launched ‘Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety’ as part of its Stay Safe At Work campaign to help employers reduce the risk of violence and aggression in the workplace. It calls on employers to embed a culture of personal safety in their workplaces; prioritise risk assessment and mitigation for all employees; provide access to reporting tools for all staff, including remote workers; and adequate reporting procedures; personal safety training; a tracing system; a system in place for colleagues to covertly raise the alarm; a clear procedure to follow if a colleague does not return or check in when expected; offer all staff a personal safety alarm; and regular consultation.

Fewer than 18pc of respondents had received personal safety training in person or online, only 34pc knew of a written personal safety policy and fewer (21pc) knew of clear reporting procedures for personal safety incidents. Of those that responded, 27pc said that having security staff on site was the most effective personal safety measure, followed by panic buttons (8.4pc), personal safety training delivered in person (4.1pc), having a written personal safety policy (3.9pc) and body-worn cameras (3.3pc).

One survey respondent outlined the typical abuse experienced:

“I have been verbally abused a number of times on the shop floor, called names like ‘stupid’, ‘idiot’, ‘bitch’, usually just because we don’t have certain products in stock or don’t sell them. One customer was jabbing me in the arm because we’d stopped selling the eggs he liked. I’ve been pushed out of the way and rammed with trolleys instead of someone saying, ‘Excuse me, please’. Someone came up behind me and slammed his hands down on my shoulders so hard he bruised me.”

Another respondent stated:

“After 12 years of security work, I have been pushed, grabbed, elbowed, punched, dragged across a car park by a car, threatened with a knife, followed home on one occasion, sworn at, spat at and had death threats in person and via phone calls to my personal mobile phone.”

Rachel Griffin, chief executive of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, pictured, was a speaker at the Security TWENTY 18 conference at Heathrow on November 7. She said: ‘These survey results illustrate that, despite measures being in place in some workplaces to reduce the risk of violence and aggression, many workers do not believe that these are sufficient to mitigate the risks they face. In some cases, staff are not aware of any personal safety measures being in place. This indicates an urgent need for employers to embed personal safety into workplace culture as a priority and to take steps outlined in Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety to help workers be safer and feel safer.’

For survey results see https://www.suzylamplugh.org/national-personal-safety-day-2018-stay-safe-at-work.

Background

Suzy Lamplugh Trust was founded by Diana and Paul Lamplugh after the disappearance of their daughter Suzy, an estate agent, in 1986.

Comment

The retail workers’ union Usdaw asks for experiences and views towards its ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign against violence and aggression in retail.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “These survey results lay bare the significant issues our members have to deal with on the frontline of retail, where all too often they can face violence threats and abuse. We worked with the Trust to promote the survey and we continue to urge employers to work with trade union health and safety reps to make their workplaces safer. During Usdaw’s respect week, over 1,000 events will take place across the country where our members working in retail will be urging the shopping public to show respect to shop workers. We also work extensively with retail employers on improving safety standards and welcome their support for our campaign.

“There is much that the Government can do to help tackle these issues, like better policing and stiffer sentences for those who assault shop workers. They could act immediately by accepting a protection of shop workers amendment to their Offensive Weapons Bill, which will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shop worker who is preventing the illegal sale of knives and corrosive substances.

“Shop workers are at the centre of our communities. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law.”


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