Violence usually involves physical assault or the threat of physical assault. Bullying and violence can both result from conflict and can occur together. However, bullying does not always result in violence. Threats to harm someone, violence and damage to property are criminal matters that should be referred to the police.

Identifying and controlling the risk of Workplace Bullying

Bullying is best dealt with by taking steps to prevent it before it becomes a risk to health and safety. Using a risk management approach will assist in the process. Consultation with workers and their health and safety representatives must occur at each step of the risk management process.

  • Identify bullying risk factors
  • Assess the likelihood of bullying occurring and its impact
  • Control the risks by eliminating them, or if not reasonably practicable, minimising the risk as far as reasonably practicable, and
  • Review the effectiveness of the control measures.

The WHS Act requires that you consult, so far as is reasonably practicable, with workers who carry out work for you who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by a work health and safety matter. Consultation must also be carried out in the development of any policies and procedures related to bullying, including complaints procedures.

PCBU’s should develop a Bullying policy in consultation with workers and their health and safety representatives.  The policy should set out the standards of expected behaviour and make a clear statement that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated

A workplace bullying policy should contain:

  • A statement that the organisation is committed to preventing bullying
  • The standards of appropriate behaviour,
  • A process to encourage reporting, including contact points
  • A definition of bullying with examples of bullying behaviour, and
  • The consequences for not complying with the policy.

An appropriate communication strategy for the policies and procedures relating to bullying and harassment will encourage widespread awareness of the health and safety impacts of workplace bullying and endorse the need to be proactive in preventing workplace bullying.

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