Violence at Work (UK)

Danger Signs

Some assaults are extremely difficult to predict, but experience shows that physical violence generally follows some form of interaction between the participants. Usually this will include an exchange of words.

Assaults are much more likely where ultimatums are issued. For example, exercising authority, or withdrawing / witholding a service.

Certain types of behaviour are also usual in the prelude to physical violence. The most likely stages are listed below.

The person is:

  • Agitated / frustrated, loud speech, finger pointing, drawing in breath sharply, sighing audibly, rolling their eyes upwards,restless pacing or fidgeting, table tapping, sweating, unable to remain still, oversensitive to suggestions, speech and thought processes disjointed, inability to concentrate.

  • Abusive, swearing, making fists, issuing threats, staring eyes, adopting fighting stances, challenges to fight, face begins to pale

  • Excitable shouting turns to menacing slow controlled tones, followed by silence, breathing deepens, head tilts forward slightly. The person may also look away momentarily - and may try to signal to associates.

  • They suddenly appear to rise up as they begin the rush to attack.

If a person you are dealing with displays one, some, or all of the behaviours described, it does not necessarily mean that an attack is certain. But, you should consider them as 'Danger Signs' and take appropriate action!


Keep a safe distance away

If you get too close to someone who is feeling threatened or is angry and aggressive, before you have given them time to calm down, collect themselves and to agree to your proposals for resolution, it may be ‘the trigger’ for an assault. Distance is safety.


Stay Safe

Everybody is different and the way a person may behave towards or respond to you can never be predicted with 100% certainty. Make a habit of always optimising your personal safety and, if anything, err on the side of caution.