Instances of workplace abuse, harassment or aggression can come from customers, clients or fellow team members and can include things like:

  • physical assault such as biting, scratching, hitting, kicking, pushing, grabbing, throwing objects

  • intentionally coughing or spitting on someone

  • sexual assault or any other form of indecent physical contact, and

  • harassment or aggressive behaviour that creates a fear of violence, such as stalking, verbal threats and abuse, yelling and swearing and can be in person, by phone, email or online.

How you respond will vary depending on the nature and severity of the incident. If you experience this type of behaviour or witness it, there are some steps you can take to ensure your own, or the other person's, wellbeing and safety:

  • use calm verbal and non-verbal communication

  • use verbal de-escalation and distraction techniques

  • seek support from other workers

  • ask the aggressor to leave the premises or disconnect the aggressor from the phone call

  • set off a duress alarm, if available

  • alert security personnel or the police

  • retreat to a safe location.

Immediately after a violent incident, you should:

  • ensure that everyone is safe

  • provide first aid or urgent medical attention where necessary

  • seek support where required, including psychological support

  • report what happened, who was affected and who was involved.

You can report your concerns about violent or aggressive behaviour at your workplace to your supervisor, human resources area, or the person designated by your organisation.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information from: Safe Work Australia

Image credit: Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a professional.

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