The COVID-19 outbreak has led to increased fear and anxiety amongst the public.
Because of this, many consumers have engaged in ‘panic buying’ creating sudden and unexpected demand for a number of products in supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail outlets.
This demand has made it difficult for retailers to maintain stock levels in stores, and has led to increased instances of inappropriate and potentially aggressive behaviour from customers.
All businesses have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for workers and manage the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Here are some practical steps businesses can take to prevent workplace violence:
- consult with workers to identify the situations where there’s a risk of violent behaviour, for example:
- which products or services are in high demand or short supply
- where a customer might not receive a positive outcome
- where there are long queues for a product or service
- assess how likely verbal, aggressive or violent customer behaviour might be in those situations.
Then implement solutions. For example:
- have clear policies and procedures outlining how the business will manage aggressive behaviour
- show empathy, but stand firm on your zero tolerance policy (for example use signs, audio recordings, telephone on-hold messages)
- provide instruction, training and supervision to de-escalate aggressive behaviour
- consider physical barriers to enforce physical distancing and safe entry / exit in the event of aggressive behaviour
- consider duress alarms, video surveillance, security or assistance from NSW Police for high risk work environments.
Penalties for spitting and coughing
- a public official
- another worker while the worker is at work or travelling to or from work
in a way that would reasonably be likely to cause fear about the spread of COVID-19.
Reporting a breach of the rules
You can report any person failing to follow these rules to Crime Stoppers.
- NSW Government 's Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice hub for advice and information for community and businesses.
- Australian Government Department of Health for the latest information in relation to the spread and clinical management of the disease.
- Mental health and wellbeing - find out about the services that can support you through these difficult times.
- Community resources and advice - promote good hygiene and mental health, physical distancing and staying connected with our community.
Last updated: 22 May 2020