Violence at work






Operational Kit

to combat workplace violence in the health sector

Piloted in the Gauteng Department of Health, South Africa
by Dr Susan Steinman

"The outcomes are magnificent..."

See bottom of this page for downloadable brochures

This project on the Management of Violence in the Workplace was developed by the ILO/ICN/WHO/PSI as a 3 day workshop to mobilise action against violence in the workplace.  The program is based on the 2003 ILO/ICN/WHO/PSI Joint Program's Framework Guidelines to Address Violence in the Health Sector.

Workplace violence - be it physical (homicide, attacks, beating) or psychological  (mobbing, bullying, harassment)  - affects practically all sectors and all categories of workers. The health sector is at major risk. Under the strain of reforms, growing work pressure and stress, social instability, demoralisation of workers and the deterioration of personal interrelationships, workplace violence is rapidly spreading in the health sector. Increasingly domestic violence and violence in the streets is spilling over to the health institutions. The negative consequences of such widespread violence heavily impact on the delivery of health care services, which can include deterioration of the quality of care provided and the decision by health workers to leave the health care professions. This can result in a reduction in health services available to the general population, and an increase in health costs. In developing countries particularly, equal access to primary health care is threatened if health workers, already a scarce resource, abandon their profession or migrate.

 In response to these problems the International Labour Office (ILO), The International Council of Nurses (ICN), The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Services International (PSI) produced, in 2002, Framework Guidelines for addressing workplace violence in the health sector.

 The Guidelines provide definitions of workplace violence and guidance on general rights and responsibilities; best approaches; violence recognition; violence assessment; workplace interventions; monitoring and evaluation.

 This "Companion Education and Training Kit for Practitioners" to the Framework Guidelines, hereafter called VETO, a practical, user-friendly tool which complements the policy approach of the Framework Guidelines. If used in training situations with participants representing governments and social partners, it will foster social dialogue among the interested parties.

 The two documents constitute a package that will encourage proper dissemination and utilization of the Framework Guidelines.

 Primarily targeted at workplace situations but also suitable for being used, in a flexible way, in awareness-raising contexts, VETO is targeted to a wide range of operators in the health sectors, including medical and paramedical staff, administrators, members of professional associations, trade unionists, managers, trainers, decision makers and practitioners in general. It focuses on: 

  • Awareness raising on the issue of workplace violence in the health sector
  • Clarification and understanding of the main messages of the Guidelines and their practical implications
  •  Introduction and orientation to concrete action to combat violence at the workplace

 Following the structure of the Framework Guidelines, VETO consists of seven modules:

  1. Introduction
  2. Awareness and Understanding
  3. Rights and Responsibilities
  4. Choosing the best approach
  5. Recognising and assessing
  6. Intervention
  7. Monitoring and Evaluation
  8. Conclusion

 In order to achieve the maximum impact in training sessions, VETO has been designed and should be applied using the following criteria: 

Participative. The kit is based on the full interaction and involvement of all participants in the training course and aims to promote the ownership of its messages by such participants.

 Preventive. The kit delivers an unequivocal message that workplace violence can be largely prevented, provides the means to develop prevention and encourages preventive action.

Results-oriented. Success can only be measured by the results obtained. Taking immediate action to combat violence should be the natural follow-up to using the kit. The kit also shows how strategic and immediate objectives are compatible and addresses the monitoring and evaluation of action taken.

Adaptable. Situations are complex. Solutions are multiple. One single approach to a particular problem does not work in all environments and cultures. Several approaches and options are presented and discussed so that users can develop programmes and action that meet their unique needs. 

Self- sustainable. Successful programmes and action are highlighted focussing on those that are developed at the workplace level, showed positive results, could be modified to meet changing circumstances and were cost-effective.

VETO is tailored for a three days workshop or in intense training sessions it can also be done in 2 days. international training, because of better transport facilities, usually opt for the two day VETO. It can be used in a modular way according to timetables specifically elaborated for the particular situation. As indicated in the sample schedule, the first day could be devoted to module 1, 2, .3 and 4, the second day to Module 5 and the beginning of module 6, and the third day to the finalisation of module 6 and module 7. It is also possible to concentrate VETO in one day focussing on a limited number of presentations and exercises only.


Brochure on VETO for the health sector
Brochure on VETO for the corporate and services sector
Special offer on VETO for massive roll-out in South Africa

Brochure on VETO for the health sector
Brochure on VETO for the corporate and services sector
Special offer on international training by Dr Steinman


If you are interested, please contact Dr Susan Steinman.

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