Training Failure

A social care organisation was fined for failure to control the exposure of workers to the risk of violence and aggression. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation at Dimensions (UK) Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support services for people with learning disabilities, after a support worker was kicked in the eye by a client on 31 December 2009.  

The investigation revealed that Dimensions did not have adequate processes in place to control the risk of workers being exposed to violence and aggression from this client, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard the client posed an ongoing risk of violence and aggression, and had been involved in a number of incidents where staff were injured. Dimensions (UK) Ltd was fined a total of £14,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty criminal safety offences relating to the risks of violence posed to both their employees and agency workers.       

Speaking after the sentencing, HSE inspector Carol Forster, said:

‘The risk of violence and aggression from clients with challenging behaviour is common in the social care sector. Workers can suffer not only physical injury but also psychological effects such as stress and anxiety, which can also affect their family and social life.’ She added: ‘Social care organisations have a duty to ensure that proper management systems are in place to control the risk of violence and aggression to the lowest level possible.’

The firm had failed to identify the factors that triggered the aggressive behaviour or take action to reduce the risks, she said. It had also ‘failed to act on incidents and near misses which indicated an escalating risk.’

Care Homes wishing to control their exposure to training failure risk could explore our or our which are awareness-raising training days which help to bring violence management into line in their services.

Ger Teaching 7

Gerard O’Dea is a conflict management, personal safety and physical interventions training consultant.  He is the training director for Dynamis, a specialist in personal safety and violence reduction initiatives and the European Adviser for ‘Verbal Defense and Influence’, a global programme which addresses the spectrum of human conflict.

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