Your right to feel safe from violence at work

WorkSafe’s “It’s never OK” campaign focuses on the alarming violence and aggression that too many workers face every day. Our experience is that it is the front-line workers who are most at risk of suffering an injury due to violence and aggression in the workplace.   

How Arnold Thomas & Becker can help you

At Arnold Thomas & Becker, we act for teachers, nurses, paramedics, aged care workers, retail attendants, customer service attendants, bus drivers, personal care attendants, hospitality workers and the list goes on.

The injuries we see are as varied as the circumstances in which our client found themselves; all have the common element of violence and aggression in the workplace. It’s not OK.

Examples of what our front-line workers have been through include being stabbed, kicked, head butted, punched, spat at, threated with being killed, pushed, chased, stalked, scratched and bitten.

A research report published in 2020 by the Australian Security Research Centre focusing on the six main industry sectors in Australia found that approximately 25 per cent of respondents indicated they feel safe at work less than half the time and that “violence and aggression is accepted as either ‘normal’ or a ‘regular part of the job’ by more than a third of workers.”*

Health sector employees have been the focus of much attention over recent years and the ability of these workers to continue coping in workplaces where violence is a “normal” part of the job continues to place the entire industry under strain.

Arnold Thomas & Becker has stood up for front line workers in countless cases all over Victoria.

Our client’s story

One of our clients shares her story:

At 9.30pm on a warm summer night in February 2015, in a scene replicated hundreds of times across Victoria, our client, a registered nurse at high care unit, clocked on for her night shift. Despite being given a routine handover by the afternoon nursing shift, unbeknown to our client, a resident had already started displaying signs of agitation and aggression. It was within minutes after handover, as our client commenced her routine, the resident came up to her yelling and screaming.

What followed was a night of terror for our client. Over the course of the next few hours our client was chased, racially abused, threatened that she would be killed and had to hide herself in the nurse’s station as the resident made physical attacks to property in attempts to reach her. At one point, recognizing her duty to her patients to provide their nightly medication, she had to leave the relative safety of the nurse’s station and as she did, she was chased down the hallway and had to lock herself in the drug room for own her safety. She was later chased again and verbally abused as she fled the drug room.

As a result of that night of terror, our client suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. She could not return to work.

Our client commenced a claim against her employer claiming for her pain and suffering and loss of earnings. It would not be an easy journey. Amongst other defenses the employer said that it was not reasonably foreseeable that our client would suffer a psychiatric illness as a result of the incident and that it did not breach its duty of care.

We represented our client in her case against her employer which ran to hearing in June 2020. In October 2020 our client was awarded $738,923.00 for her pain and suffering and economic loss.

Our client should have been able to attend work without worrying for her safety.

An online survey of employees in the nursing and caring profession in Victoria found that 67 per cent of  front line workers experienced violence and aggression within the preceding 12 months and 20 per cent reported experiencing violence and aggression on a weekly or daily basis. *

Prevention is key. However, by the time our clients are talking to us, the damage has been done. Our clients are already carrying the physical injuries and mental scars of being subject to violence and aggression in the workplace. Front line workers like nurses whose exposure to violence is commonplace. 

Contact us

One of the main reasons our clients say they reach out to us as personal injury lawyers is to stop the injuries happening to another person. Not compensation, but to stop it happening to others, their colleagues, their team. We will continue to stand up for front line workers who have suffered injury.

If this resonates with you, we can help. Call us today on 1300 300 333 to speak to a lawyer, or email us on [email protected]

*occupational Violence and Aggression Experienced by Nursing and Caring Professionals, Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 30 November 2016

*Polau v Wintringham Specialist Aged Care [2020] VCC 1562

*ASRC Occupational Violence, Aggression and Duty of Care in Australia, Dr Gavriel Schneider, Dr Paul Johnstone and Joe Saunders, 2020