Assaults at Work

The rising number of attacks on workers as they go about delivering vital public services is a disgrace. It is inexcusable and abhorrent.

Recent attacks on Translink workers, and on a member of the public in one of the incidents, has highlighted the issue – but when that fades from the headlines the problems will still persist.

Nobody going to or from their work, or while they are at work should be subjected to any form of abuse: physical, verbal or sexual. Yet for thousands of people that is exactly the case.

More than 5,000 nursing staff were attacked at work in the first six months of last year. Ambulance crews, some now wearing body cameras, are subjected to an average of two assaults a day. In the past year paramedics have been attacked with a sledge hammer, knuckle-duster, a crow bar and a hatchet.

Public services are not the only targets. There are also an increasing number of assaults on retail and delivery workers, many reporting high levels of verbal and physical abuse. Several pieces of legislation currently deal with attacks on workers but they need to be updated and strengthened.

All workers deserve respect, support and protection. We all have a responsibility to ensure that happens.