Survey by STTK: Violence and the threat of violence in the workplace are alarmingly widespread


STTK commissioned a survey on violence and the threat of violence in the workplace (06/2019). Results show that physical violence, the threat of violence and psychological violence in the workplace are alarmingly widespread. Psychological or physical violence has occurred in about one in three workplaces (31%) in the last three years. About one in five (22%) of the respondents has been subjected to or threatened with physical violence.

The majority have experienced violence from customers. Women have experienced violence or the threat of violence twice as often as men. Violence is particularly widespread in the social, health and education sectors. In industry, about one in ten (9%) experience some form of violence from other workers.

More than one third (37%) of the respondents have been subjected to psychological violence at work in the last three years. This has been caused by customers, supervisors, management and other employees. Women are almost twice as likely to be victims of psychological violence from customers as men.

Violence has included, for example, shouting or insulting, threats of physical violence or actual physical violence, concealing information and spreading false information, and belittling the person’s skills. Respondents believe that violence or the threat there of should be prevented by, among other things, developing workplace codes of conduct to prevent inappropriate treatment, improving leadership and management and zero tolerance for bullying at work. Proactive evaluation of workplace risks of violence is also considered important.

No one should be exposed to or threatened with violence at work: not by customers, co-workers, supervisors or management.
– Personal integrity must be respected and mental and physical well-being must be improved in all workplaces. Workplace safety must be enhanced so that everyone has the right to safe work and a safe working environment. This requires an obvious need to improve leadership and management, says STTK Director Katarina Murto.

Together with its member unions, STTK challenges all Finnish workplaces to make working life safe and physically and mentally non-violent. This will also improve productivity and reduce the number of absences from work due to illness.
– Everyone has the right to a safe workplace. All workplaces should focus on prevention and establish clear rules in the event of violence or threats of violence. Identifying the situations, reporting, developing processes and post-treatment for violent situations are important. There must be an obligation imposed on the employer to assist a worker who is the victim of physical violence or the threat of violence with the process. There must be zero tolerance for inappropriate treatment and harassment at all workplaces. This must also be required from customers, Murto emphasizes.

STTK solutions for non-violent working life:

  • A change of attitude is needed at all workplaces!
  • The safety of the working environment must be ensured
  • Human resources must be correctly and adequately scaled
  • Investments in prevention: rules and guidelines for all workplaces
  • Better identification, statistics and reporting of violent situations
  • Adequate risk mapping
  • Work-time training to deal with violent situations
  • Post-treatment for violent situations in the workplace and corrective measures
  • Improvement of leadership and management, adequate support for staff
  • Adequacy of the resources of the occupational safety and health authorities must be ensured
  • Improve legal protection for the employee in violent situations
  • The employer must have an obligation to assist the worker who has been a victim of violence with the process
  • There must be zero tolerance for inappropriate treatment and harassment in all workplaces.