Questions and answers about threats and violence
What applies with a risk of violence in an individual home?
When work entails a significant risk of an employee being subjected to violence, threats or other extremely mentally stressful conditions, the work may not be carried out alone.
Those who work within home care services and home nursing, or as personal assistants, come in close contact with their clients, that is to say the person for whom they carry out their working tasks.
In some homes there are substance abuse problems or mental illnesses. The employees thus risk being subjected to threats, violence or other mentally stressful conditions such as accusations and sexual innuendo. It is important that the employer informs the workers about how different mental illnesses manifest themselves, and in which cases they comprise a threat towards the employees. This can reduce the employee’s possible fear or feelings of inadequacy.
It is also important that the employer has a work organisation that has room for continuous supervision and support. Supervision and support to team leaders as well as to other employees can be given by someone within the organisation itself, or by someone outside it, for example occupational health services.
To facilitate cooperation with the client, the employer needs to, before work starts, inform about their work environment responsibility and that the client’s needs perhaps cannot always be accommodated exactly as desired if it is a risk to the health of the employee.
Is the employer obliged to investigate accidents at work?
Yes, the employer should investigate the causes of ill health, accidents, and serious incidents (by incident is meant that it on the way to being an accident but does not end up as one) in the work. Some preventive measures must be carried out immediately. Others can perhaps wait, but then they should be taken up in a written action plan with information about when they are to be carried out and who is responsible for doing this. That which is in the action plan must be carried out as soon as is practically possible.
All incidents with violence or threats of violence should be documented and investigated, whether they are serious or not.
May one work alone in a care unit at night?
It depends upon what type of care unit it is. If one cannot have acceptable security, it is not appropriate to work alone at night. Sometimes one can arrange security through the staff being able to alarm someone else for help, for example the supervisor, another division, or a guard. It is important to be sure that there is someone who can answer the alarm and also to make sure that the necessary help will come within a reasonable time.
A patient has hit me in my work in the emergency ward. What should I do?
You should turn to your employer and ask for help. If the employer cannot organise this, you should contact occupational health care services together. It is important that you jointly talk through how you should prevent something similar from happening again. Do not forget to report what happened as an occupational injury.
May a 15-year old do practical work experience (PRAO) together with a security guard at night?
No, they may not. During PRAO, only easier and non-risky work may take place. In appendix 1 in the provision about young people’s work environment (AFS 2012:3), the tasks that young people are not allowed to do are listed, and among these is security work according to the Act on Security Companies.
If a pupil hits an employee, must a report according to 3 chap. 3 a § of the Work Environment Act be made?
Yes, all threats of violence, or violence between pupils and teacher, or between pupils, must be reported to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. The Work Environment Act and the provisions about violence and threats in the work environment, AFS 1993:2, protect both pupils and teachers. In accordance with these provisions, all workplaces where there can be a risk of being affected by ill health due to threats and violence must work preventively to counteract this. There should also be procedures for what you should do if an accident occurs and how you, for example, should deal with reports. Talk to your employer, who is the one who is responsible for this preventive work. You should also decide if the incident should be reported to the police.
What applies when one is pregnant and works at an elderly care centre for patients with senile dementia, and where there are many violent patients?
The health care and social care sector, and social services are the most vulnerable sectors when it comes to threats and violence. The employer is obliged to, in cooperation with the pregnant employee, carry out a risk assessment about how great the likelihood is that the pregnant person will be affected by violence and what the consequences of this would be. The employer is obliged to, as soon as possible, take steps to remove the risk that the pregnant employee is affected by ill health due to the risk of threats and violence. It can happen that the working tasks need to be adapted, for example through reassignment. If the employer does not succeed in fixing the risks, it is prohibited to allow the pregnant person to work in the risky environment. To breach these stipulations carries a fine for the employer.
I have a colleague who has been verbally threatened by a subcontractor we hire. What obligations do we have as a company and what can we do to help?
This is a serious incident that should be reported to the Swedish Work Environment Authority. You should also consider filing a police report.
All organisations that can be affected by threatening and violent situations must work preventively so that no one is affected by ill health due to things that happen at work. To chart the risks of threats and violence should be a part of your systematic work environment management. In short, this means regularly investigating your work environment in order to find the risks that exist, fix these by means of - for example - safety procedures, technical solutions or the possibility of support. Then the employer should follow up the measures to check that they work as intended.
Sometimes preventive measures are not sufficient, and an accident can occur. The employer is obliged to have a plan for first aid and crisis support. Establish procedures for how you at the workplace should react if someone is injured or affected by threats or violence. An employee who has been subjected to threats of violence, or violence, should quickly receive help and support to prevent or mitigate physical as well as mental harm. In the acute phase it can often be the colleagues of the victim that are expected to give the first aid until the ambulance and police arrive. To be quickly available for an affected colleague can reduce the injuries significantly. Remember that those who have witnessed the incident can also be in need of support.
Occupational accidents or serious incidents should be reported to us.