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

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

It is 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. And being assaulted at work by a resident is not uncommon.

According to the Care Workers’ Charity, a health and social care worker is attacked every 30 minutes in the UK – a statistic that many would find shocking. But this is sadly a reality for thousands of care workers up and down the country.

Assault at work injuries

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

First4Lawyers’ Head of Claims Jacqueline Busby is all too aware of the impact an assault in the workplace can have:

“Having worked in personal injury for many years, I have seen first-hand how damaging incidents of this kind can be – both physically and psychologically.

“Everyone has the right to feel safe at work, and it can be devastating when accidents or assaults take place. You may no longer feel like you’re protected in the job you love, and many people decide to change roles completely.

“But it’s important to understand that there is support available after suffering a workplace assault.

“Making a claim isn’t just about the compensation. It could also open the door to specialist medical treatment, counselling or physiotherapy. So you can focus on getting as close to your old self as possible.”

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 some 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 them responsible. This is because action should have been taken action to prevent further incidents under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

As well as providing training for how to deal with potentially violent situations, your employer should take steps to ensure that you’re not left one-on-one with residents who are known to become aggressive.

If your employer did not provide the necessary training and you were the victim of an assault by a resident at work, the company could be held accountable for any injuries you’ve suffered.

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 be 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

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.

If you’re able to prove your employer was negligent in protecting you, our solicitors could help you bring a workplace accident claim against them on a No Win No Fee basis.

We understand that you may be anxious about claiming and the effect it could have on your job. But your employer is not allowed to dismiss you for taking legal action. If they do, they could risk an unfair dismissal claim.

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


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