Last updated July 2023
This chapter explains the health and safety risks of exposure to work-related violence, and how to manage these risks to meet your health and safety obligations.
What is work-related violence?
Work-related violence is any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of, or in the course of, their work.
This definition covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that can create a risk to workers’ psychological and physical health and safety, including:
- verbal threats;
- sexual assault;
- threatening with a weapon;
- throwing objects;
- pushing, shoving and hitting; and
- spitting and biting.
Exposure to work-related violence includes being the victim of, or witnessing:
- assault by a person or persons who may or may not be work colleagues, e.g. a visitor to your workplace; or
- bank robberies, hold-ups and other violent events at work.
Safe Work Australia first reported on the significant increase in workplace violence in its 2015 reports, Work-related mental disorders profile and Bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces: Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer 2014/15.