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Aggression in the Workplace What steps can be taken?

During the coronavirus pandemic, many workers in customer facing roles have experienced an increase in aggression in the workplace resulting from frustrated customers. In addition to having a policy addressing workplace aggression,  there are other steps that employers can take to help support employees who may be faced with such situations.

Dealing with aggressive customers can be challenging and employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace, to protect employees and to consult with employees when identifying hazards, risks and mitigation plans. To support employees and to minimise potential risks of aggression in the workplace, the following steps can be taken:

  • ensure access to the premises is appropriately controlled 
  • ensure that appropriate security measures are in place,  such as video surveillance or duress alarms 
  • provide employees with a safe place to retreat to avoid violence should it occur
  • displaying signage to reflect that any form of violence and aggression will not be tolerated
  • manage expectations of customers through communicating any changes or restrictions in products or services that are being provided you are now providing. An example of this would be to inform customers of reduced services or details regarding increased wait times.
  • promote awareness messages to customers about constraints due to the COVID-19 situation and encouraging them to show patience, respect and understanding 
  • review your work practices, in consultation with workers to assess whether they may contribute to violence and aggression  
  • provide training for workers in how to deal with difficult customers, conflict resolution and when to escalate problem and report incidents
  • ensure that workers are made aware of their right to cease unsafe work. 

If you require advice or assistance with understanding your obligations in relation to workplace health and safety,  or should you require support regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at [email protected] or on 1300 720 004.


Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.


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