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Healthcare | Occupational Health & Safety

Safety And Security Risks in Hospitals

5 Sep 2016, by Informa Insights

This year’s Safe & Secure Hospitals Conference taking place on 17-18 October 2016 at the Novotel Melbourne on Collins will address code grey responses, incident reporting, training and education for security and clinical staff, legal protection, improvements to communication between staff, patients and visitors, strengthening healthcare policy and the importance of clinical governance, security risk management frameworks and much more.

I had the opportunity to discuss safety and security risks in hospitals, with Trevor Lawson, Victorian Associate for Verbal Judo Australia. Trevor will be providing a 3 hour interactive post conference workshop at this year’s conference, about ‘Tactical Communications for Health Care Workers’.

Informa: What are the greatest safety and security risks in hospitals?

Trevor Lawson
Trevor Lawson

Trevor: If we look at occupational violence as possibly the greatest risk… from my personal experience it boils down to; ineffective “tick the box” training programs and the culture of “zero tolerance”.

Both of which do nothing to up-skill staff but rather create a system that down-skills staff, leaving them ill equipped to prevent and or manage these stressful and complex situations.

Informa: Can you share a couple of effective strategies for mitigating and preventing violence?

Trevor: Train your staff well and support them in their difficult and challenging roles, I cannot express how important these two things are for front line health care workers.

Informa: How can hospitals improve staff safety and minimize workplace aggression?


  • Culture change. Teach all staff that have direct patient contact, Verbal Judo,
  • Then teach all the managers, supervisors, directors and CEO’s,
  • Then promote, reinforce, retrain and discipline for it.

Occupational violence is a complex, multifaceted problem and everyone needs to be speaking the same language.


Informa: Aggressive patients, increasing violence and dangerous situations – How do healthcare workers ensure that these issues do not impact their personal health and wellbeing?

Trevor: I’m going to speak to this one from a psychological standpoint…. to insure both your mental and physical health you need to be trained in how to communicate in high stress situations, it’s that simple.

It’s not knowing what to say or do, that will cause stress and panic and possibly cause escalation rather than de-escalation. This is not the fault of the staff, we need to be clear on that point, they just aren’t equipped to deal effectively with the situation.
We have a duty of care to provide staff with the best training available in crisis communication.

Informa: Why is it important for healthcare workers to gain full support from their organisation and senior executives?

Trevor: Leadership is the key. Staff need to believe that those at a senior level, really do have their welfare as a top priority and are not just sprouting off catchy slogans.
Frontline staff want and need leaders who, actually, understand what they have to deal with on a daily basis. If staff feel that they aren’t cared about, how can they effectively care for others?
At Verbal Judo, we call it the “hook down theory”. Basically you have to “hook down” with your staff, work with them, experience what they experience, feel the pressure of the frontline. You can’t do that flying a desk.

Informa: What issues do you think the healthcare industry needs to address to achieve a safer and more secure hospital environment?

Trevor: The main issues are relevant, effective training and suitably qualified security staff.
Staff will always feel safer if they feel confident in their skills and of those who are there to protect them.

Informa: Who are you looking forward to hearing from at this year’s Safe & Secure Hospitals Conference, and why?

Trevor: After taking a look at the online agenda, I must say I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to contribute.
I have never walked away from a conference where I didn’t learn something from each and every speaker.

Informa: Finally, what do you hope the attendees will take away from your workshop at the 9th Annual Safe and Secure Hospitals Conference?

Trevor: A fun and informative morning. This 3-hour workshop is designed to give attendees a glimpse at the Verbal Judo system and to provide some of the key principles and strategies that are contained within our 1 & 2-day course.
After learning the below, attendees will be amazed at how differently they will approach each and every verbal encounter.

Principles: The three street truths of interpersonal communication

  •  Words V’s Meanings – People rarely say what they mean when they are upset.
  •  93% of your success lies in the delivery – it’s not what you say but how you say it.
  •  2 = 6 – In every two-person interaction there are six personalities.


  •  The 5 Step hard style – the Five steps to effectively dealing with verbal resistance.
  •  The 8 Step meet & Greet – The professional way to make a great first impression.
  •  SAFER (the 5 conditions when words have failed) – When to stop talking and ACT.

For information about Trevor Lawson and Verbal Judo, please visit here.

For more information about the detailed conference agenda and to register, please visit the Safe & Secure Hospitals Conference website.

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