Managing occupational violence / customer aggression
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to increased fear and anxiety amongst the public.
Because of this, many consumers have engaged in ‘panic buying’ creating sudden and unexpected demand for a number of products in supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets.
This demand has made it difficult for retailers to maintain stock levels in stores, and has led to increased instances of inappropriate and potentially aggressive behaviour from customers.
All businesses have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for workers and manage the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Here are some practical steps businesses can take to prevent workplace violence.
- Consult with workers to identify the situations where there’s a risk of violent behaviour. For example: what products or services are in high demand or short supply? Where might a customer not receive a positive outcome? Are there long queues for a product or service?
- Assess how likely verbal, aggressive or violent behaviour might be in those situations.
- Then implement solutions. For example:
- have clear policies and procedures outlining how the business will manage aggressive behaviour
- promote a zero tolerance policy (for example use signs, audio recordings, telephone on-hold messages etc.)
- provide instruction, training and supervision to de-escalate aggressive behaviour
- consider physical barriers to enforce social distancing and safe entry / exit in the event of aggressive behaviour
- consider duress alarms, video surveillance, security or assistance from NSW Police for high risk work environments
- NSW Government 's Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice hub for advice and information for community and businesses.
- Australian Government Department of Health for the latest information in relation to the spread and clinical management of the disease.