One in eight people have been the victim of violence at work throughout their lifetime, according to a new study into workplace health and safety.

The study, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), found that 12% of the 1,642 people surveyed had experienced work-related violence during their career. This included being pushed, punched, spat on and even stabbed.

Almost a third of the victims admitted that they had been assaulted at work more than five times during their career, while one in five reported that it had happened on at least 10 occasions.

Medical staff and healthcare professionals were the most affected, with 22% of people reporting that they had experienced least once attack. Around 10% of teachers, hospitality and retail staff had also been assaulted in the workplace.

With more than 31 million people in employment across the UK, the TUC has raised concerns that this could indicate that up to four million people may have suffered an assault injury throughout the course of their career.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “Workplace violence is far too common in the UK. These disturbing findings show that millions of people are likely to experience violence and intimidation at some point in their working life… There is no excuse for physically assaulting someone. Workplaces must be safe for everyone.”

Gerard Stilliard, head of personal injury strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, the UK’s leading trade union law firm, said: “Employees should be able to go to work safe in the knowledge that they are protected from harm. These findings are deeply concerning and show that workplace safety needs to be taken much more seriously.

“Through our work with trade unions, we have seen first-hand the impact that being assaulted at work can have, both physically and psychologically. Employers must ensure that they have robust procedures in place to protect staff, especially those working on the front line in sectors like healthcare and education.

“Trade unions play an integral part in stopping violence at work and supporting those who have been victims of it. The Tory government should spend less time undermining the role of trade unions, who ultimately protect employees, and more time focusing on those employers who do not put measures in place to protect their staff."