Assaulted at Work by a Resident: Who is to Blame?

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Carrie Tennick, August 24, 2021

As a care worker, you have a demanding and a physical job. It can take its toll on even the strongest people.

It’s a hugely rewarding career, though. There’s motivation in helping people who really need it, whether they’re elderly or vulnerable.

But there are risks that come with working with certain people. Being assaulted at work by a resident is not uncommon.

Assault at work injuries

Being hurt in an accident can be a hugely stressful and even traumatic experience. If you’ve been hurt in an assault at work by a resident, this can be even more distressing.

Certain professions come with a higher risk of violence. Unfortunately, those who work in health and social care services can be at greater risk, particularly when working with residents living with dementia, learning disabilities or mental health problems.

Being assaulted by a resident can cause both physical and psychological injuries. You could be left having to take time off work to recover, which could affect your finances. After an assault, you might also struggle with anxiety and even fear of returning to work and seeing the person who hurt you.

So what are your rights after becoming the victim of violence at work?

Who is to blame?

Although it would be easy to solely blame the resident or service user who assaulted you at work, there may be others who could be held responsible. After all, a resident may be confused or trying to defend themselves by acting violently.

Residents of care homes and other social care service users are typically vulnerable. This can mean come residents may be more likely to react unpredictably to certain situations and events. And being assaulted is something many care workers find themselves dealing with.

If your employer has had previous reports of this person acting violently to staff members, you could be able to hold your employer responsible. That’s because they should have taken action to prevent this from happening.

Your employer should have also made sure that you’ve had the training you would need to handle potentially violent situations. The right training could give you the skills to calm residents down and avoid any violence, as well as what to do if it becomes unavoidable. If your employer has not provided any training and you were the victim of an assault by a resident at work, your employer could be held responsible.

The importance of risk assessments

Businesses need to carry out risk assessments to identify any threats to employees’ health and safety. If the firm employs five or more people, the risk assessment must be recorded. And these risk assessments should be regular, not just a one off.

In care home environments, residents may pose a threat to workers. If a resident has been known to violent or unpredictable, this should be recorded in a risk assessment.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, a risk assessment should include:

  • The hazards identified
  • The people who could be hurt and how that could happen
  • What an employer is doing to control these risks

The Social Care Institute for Excellence advises that “a careful and balanced approach to risk will include assessments which include … the possibility of aggression or challenging behaviour”. A risk assessment that doesn’t look at this potential hazard is an incomplete assessment. And this puts people at risk.

So if your employer has not carried out an appropriate risk assessment and you are hurt by a resident who should have been identified as a risk, your employer could be responsible.

What to do

If your employer can be held responsible for the assault that caused your injury, that means that you could be able to make a workplace accident claim against them.

The first thing you should do after being injured is report the incident to your employer. Ask them to record it in an accident book or any other official document. This can then become evidence if you decide to take action.

First4Lawyers could help you make a No Win No Fee compensation claim. This could be a huge help if you’ve had to take time off work while you recover. We understand that you may be anxious about claiming as you may be worried it will affect your job.

But your employer is not allowed to sack you for making a claim. If they do, they risk an unfair dismissal claim.

To find out more about how we could help, just get in touch. Give us a call, request a call back or start your claim online and we’ll get back to you.

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