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  3. 10. General
  4. 10.11 Staff safety and well-being
  5. Key steps
  6. 3. Manage aggressive behaviour by clients

3. Manage aggressive behaviour by clients

When faced with aggressive behaviour by clients:

  • secure your immediate safety before completing or continuing with organisational demands
  • secure the safety of others, for example, in an office-based situation:
    • ensure other departmental officers are aware of the situation
    • ensure all potential factors that may exacerbate the situation are minimised
    • ensure all doors and exits are secure to prevent the client from entering the work space
    • ensure all departmental officers are aware that they should not enter the administration area or other area, for example, an interview room, where the aggressive person is situated
    • restrict access to the area by other persons until the situation has calmed down
  • endeavour to defuse the situation, if and where possible - this may include strategies as listed in the levels of action table, or other appropriate techniques developed with line management and workplace health and safety representatives
  • consult with line management or workplace health and safety representatives in relation to your assessment of the situation and potential control measures
  • seek the involvement of the QPS, if required - refer to the 'Levels of aggression table' for the appropriate response.

When situations become threatening or violent:

  • call for assistance (security or the QPS) and give details of the location and nature of the incident
  • stay out of danger if not directly involved and leave the area if safe to do so
  • assess the situation carefully before undertaking any physical intervention - physical intervention will only occur as a last resort, when no other option seems viable, or in order to prevent serious injury
  • where injuries have occurred, only attempt assistance where there is no risk - do not place more people in danger
  • as a follow up, consider the need for debriefing, either internally with your line manager, or through the Employee Assistance Service provider.

When undertaking home visits:

  • park close to the home, preferably within sight of the house and the public, with the vehicle in a position that will allow for easy departure
  • listen for sounds of disturbance and check for anything unusual when approaching the home, for example, unusual smells or evidence of drug or alcohol use on the front lawn or deck
  • stand back a little from the door and not directly in front of it - this will give the other person space and will present less of a target
  • give your name and present the departmental identification card
  • do not enter unless invited to do so, or if it appears safe to do so
  • observe the state of the house and note possible avenues of exit
  • ensure there are clear paths to the entry points, and ensure that clients do not restrict these pathways - for example, avoid being trapped in a corner of a room where there is no clear exit
  • leave immediately if the situation appears to be escalating out of control and attempts to defuse the situation have failed
  • if unable to leave, distract or refocus the attention of the other person/s and leave promptly when the opportunity arises
  • be aware of other specific procedures that may apply for staff working in rural and remote locations - refer to the CSSC manager or team leader for further details.

When transporting clients of the department:

  • insist that a second person accompanies the person transporting the client, if the client has a history of aggression towards staff, or if there is some other indication of risk
  • seat the client in the rear seat, directly behind the passenger seat next to another staff member, if there is an indication of risk
  • move into the slow lane, and consider pulling over and calling for assistance, if under threat while driving
  • consider using a taxi and sit next to the client in the back seat.