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Dealing with bullying at the workplace


Workplace bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour that can occur at work and/or in the course of employment. It may be direct or indirect, verbal or physical, or some form of negative interaction between one or more persons against another or others. Bullying behaviour can be regarded as undermining an individual’s right to dignity at work.

An isolated incident of behaviour as described in this definition may be an affront to dignity at work but as a one-off incident, is not considered to be bullying. Bullying may harm, intimidate, threaten, victimise, undermine, offend, degrade or humiliate another person. Workplace bullying can be harmful to organisations as well as individuals, resulting in reduced efficiency, productivity and profitability; increased absenteeism and staff turnover; increased counselling, mediation costs and compensation claims; and possible legal action.

Workplace bullying can take place between staff members or between employees and the customers, patients, contractors or visitors that they are dealing with. Young employees appear to be particularly vulnerable to bullying, especially in workplaces where older employees may exert power and influence in an inappropriate way.

Workplace bullying can affect the safety and health of employees. For this reason it should be managed like any other workplace safety and health hazard. Employers have a duty under occupational safety and health laws to find out if bullying happens in their workplaces and to take steps to stop it happening.

It is easier to prevent bullying than it is to intervene after an event or mediate when a pattern of bullying has been established. There can be significant cost savings for organisations that maintain a workplace free from bullying behaviour.

A set of Guidance notes have been published regarding bullying in the workplace:

For further information contact the WorkSafe call centre.

Related information

Source: Department of Commerce, West Australia http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/Content/Safety_Topics/Bullying/Dealing_with_bullying_at_the_w.html

Other sources

Bullies at work by Ann Andrews http://www.selectioncriteria.com.au/a-bullying.html

Tactics against bullying at work http://www.uow.edu.au/~bmartin/pubs/07bullying.html

Bullying: Prevention and Tips http://www.watchmojo.com/index.php?id=7327

What is workplace bullying? http://www.hreoc.gov.au/info_for_employers/what.html

Dealing with workplace bullying http://www.safework.sa.gov.au/contentPages/ManagingSafety/ProblemsAtWork/BullyingStop.htm

How to deal with workplace bullying and how to tackle bullying at work http://www.bullyonline.org/action/action.htm

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