Date: 28 April 2021
Topic: How to address workplace abuse, and its impact on staff.

Imagine going to work every day and having to face a barrage of abuse from the people you are trying to help and keep safe.  Being sworn and spat at for no reason at all.  Or being physically attacked or having missiles chucked at you.  Sounds unfathomable, doesn’t it?  But every day, thousands of frontline transport workers, station staff, revenue protection officers, cleaners, highways operatives and bus drivers are threatened, abused, and assaulted on our UK transport networks. These types of attacks cause long-term damage to people’s mental health and wellbeing, and they add up to millions of pounds in lost revenue and thousands of days lost to ill health .

Over recent years, we have seen an alarming increase in these types of incidents across the network, and Covid-19 has only exacerbated the situation.  Lone working, PPE compliance while travelling, and cuts to British Transport Police have all been cited as contributory factors in this increase, but does that really give us the full picture?  And how can we encourage staff to speak up and report these (sometimes minor) incidents?  How can we measure the true scale of the problem, and what solutions and initiatives could reduce the impact of these incidents?

CIRAS members met online to explore how they were tackling this abuse and their initiatives to protect and support workers.