Education program targets workplace bullies

WorkSafe will target workplace bullies with a three-year program to educate employers about preventing abusive behaviours.


WorkSafe will conduct a series of workshops across Victoria over the next three years to give business owners information about how to recognise, prevent and manage workplace bullying, and how to better help employees return to work after suffering mental health injuries associated with bullying behaviour.

The workshops will also be accompanied by a program of targeted inspections in the local area, with WorkSafe focusing on industries which have a higher number of mental injury claims lodged due to workplace bullying.

During these visits, inspectors will offer practical advice to employers on how to put appropriate systems in place to prevent and deal with bullying behaviour.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said allowing bullying behaviour to occur was a serious breach of workplace health and safety laws and employers risked prosecution.

In the most recent case, a Geelong builder was last year convicted and fined $12,500 after an 18-year-old apprentice was subjected to verbal, physical and psychological bullying and harassment at work.

“Of the 26,000 injury claims lodged with WorkSafe in 2016, more than 3100 were for mental injuries, and 1260 of those mentioned bullying as a cause,” Ms Williams said.

“The insidious nature of bullying means that often the damage is done long before an injured worker makes a WorkCover claim, which is why it is essential employers have prevention measures in place, and work with employees to identify unacceptable behaviour and deal with it immediately.”

Ms Williams said workplace bullying was not acceptable in any workplace under any circumstances.

“Workplace bullying is characterised by persistent and repeated negative behaviour directed at an employee that creates a risk to health and safety,” Ms Williams said.

“WorkSafe is committed to helping employers and workers manage these types of risks, and to take action where it is appropriate to do so.”

The first Bullying Prevention Workshop will take place in Ballarat on Thursday, 27 July. Other workshops will take place in Port Melbourne in September and Pakenham in November.