Bullying and Violence: What are they exactly?

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.

Violence At Work: The Various Types

Human ResourcesThe National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the United States has established various types of the Human Resource issue– Violence At The Workplace.

The first type or, “Type 1- Criminal Intent”; the criminal has no personal or reasonable connection to the business or any employees. Instead, the incidence of violence is usually related to other crimes– this can include, but is not limited to; robbery, shoplifting, and trespassing.

A large percentage of workplace homicides are in fact, Type 1. If your business involves the handling of money or say, prescription drugs—then your business may be at a higher risk for this type of violence.

The next type of workplace violence is “Customer/Client” (Type II). This occurs when the violent offender has a legitimate connection with the business. This can include a customer, client, patient, student, or inmate.

Many customer/client incidents of violence have been known to occur in the healthcare industry. Incidents have frequently occurred in settings such as nursing homes or psychiatric facilities. People who deal with patients are the likely victims in this situation. Other roles such as Police services, flight attendant, and teachers, are at risk of becoming victims to this type of violence.

Despite the unpredictable risk of working in these fields, only approximately three percent of workplace homicides have been a result of Type II violence. However, this type of violence results is majority of non-fatal occupational violence incidents.If your job involves dealing with criminals, mentally ill, or stressed and confined individuals (Such as airline passengers after a long delayed flight), then you, or your business may be at risk for workplace violence.

Worker on Worker violence (Type III) is violence that occurs when an employee or former employee of the business, attacks or physically threatens another employee. Type III violence occurs approximately 7 percent of the time.

Any workplace can fall victim to this type of violence, however businesses that neglect to operate criminal background checks when hiring and businesses that are downsizing; are all at a higher risk.

Finally, the last type of workplace violence is Personal relationship (Type IV). This occurs when the offender does not have a relationship with the business but rather an employee within the business. This type of violence usually includes domestic violence which involves assault or threats while at work. Approximately 5 percent of all workplace violence incidents are a result of Type IV.   Workplaces that are easily accessible by the public are at a higher risk. This includes; retail businesses, food businesses, or other businesses with only one location (thus making relocation impossible.)

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