Advice for Handling Bullying on the Job

An interesting article on discussed what to do when you are being bullied on a work site and in particular what to do when that bullying comes from your boss.

Workplace bullying is described as the repeated and unreasonable behaviour that creates a risk to the health and safety of employees.

Workplace bullying can occur between anyone at work, it is even more complicated when it involves an employee and their manager or supervisor.

In this regard recognising what is unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour is very important.

The article’s writer provided a  list of red flags that employees can look for if they suspect their boss is bullying them including verbal abuse, threatening and inappropriate behaviour. If they regular yell, swear or make jokes at your expense on a regular basis, this constitutes bullying. Behaviour like this in front of co-workers can make people feel humiliated.

Bosses who bully also usually invade personal space and try to intimidate their employees.

Sometimes more sinister tactics are employed involving work, such as setting unrealistic deadlines or undermining work performance or even setting tasks that you don’t have the knowledge or skill to complete.

Isolating and excluding people from key meetings or team gatherings may also constitute bullying.

Some bosses may even spread malicious rumours to make co-workers shun the victim of their abuse.

Once you recognise that you are being bullied, you must decide what course of action to take. To learn more read the article on

How Employers Can Prevent Workplace Bullying

Together with the release of WorkSafe Victoria’s video on bullying for employees, they have also released this video detailing the responsibilities of employers when it comes to workplace bullying.

As an employer, this video will help you identify your obligations.

As an employee this video can help you identify what your employer’s responsibilities towards you and others on the worksite are.

Builder Fined For Bullying Apprentice


A builder has been fined $12,500 for bullying an apprentice in his employ over a 2 year period.

The bullying which came not only from the builder himself but other employees who he encouraged to join in on the bullying of the apprentice.

The bullying and harassment apparently only stopped when the apprentice left the job.

The teenage apprentice was subjected to extreme and shocking harassment and abuse including verbal, physical and psychological abuse.

A victim impact statement said that the apprentice still suffers  from anxiety, depression, nightmares and insomnia caused by the bullying.

This conviction serves as a reminder to those who use their positions of power over others to abuse and bully them that this is not acceptable and they will be brought to book for their unacceptable behaviour.

Read more

Bullying in the workplace is Unacceptable


A Geelong carpenter has pleaded guilty to one rolled up charge for workplace bullying under the 2004 OHS Act for failing to provide a safe system of work to an apprentice worker.

The builder was charged $12,500 for bullying an apprentice over a period of 2 years until he left in April 2015.

The worker was subjected to repeated abuse and harassment during the 2 year period, including having a live mouse put down his shirt and being spat on by an employee. The apprentice was also drenched with water, slapped with timber, scraped with sandpaper and had hot drill saw bits held against his skin.

This case proves that bullying will not be tolerated in the workplace. See more

Know Bull! Day Observed Nationally

Yesterday was Know Bull! Day which was observed around the country as a day to end bullying in the workplace.

construction workers

Bullying has become a major concern in the workplace and in construction particularly. A number of workers have  taken their own lives due to being bullied which is why days such as this are so important.

If you missed the day, don’t worry Anti-bullying will be theme for the month of June.

Click here for more.

White Card Update: Addressing Bullying From Senior Staff

Employers should understand the importance of addressing bullying in the workplace but we need to recognise that bullying doesn’t always occur horizontally, between employees or colleagues, bullying can also occur from the top down.

A recent case which took place at Mount Thorley is an example of bullying from senior staff down to lower level employees.

Mine workers at the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine have alleged that they were bullied and harassed by senior staff at the mine and have lodged complaints against the supervisors in production and maintenance areas of the mine.

The CFMEU has lodged complaints on behalf of the 8 employees who claim that their supervisors at the mind had bullied them. The complaints have been lodged at the NSW Department of Trade and Investment mine safety office.

The CFMEUs union district president Peter Jordan reiterated that no workers should ever be bullied in the workplace and it is important that we take all bullying and harassment complaints seriously but even more so when it comes from eight separate employees within a single workplace.

Jordan explained that it was unusual for complaints to be lodged against supervisors from so many workers at the mine, usually individual members would lodge complaints against other workers at other mines.

A spokesperson from Mount Thorley Warkworth recently said in a statement:

Mount Thorley Warkworth mine workers claim bullying   Newcastle Herald“Mine safety operation inspectors are investigating under the Work Health and Safety Act,” the spokesman said.

“They have recommended that the company form a panel to further investigate the allegations, resolve the issue and report back to the inspectors.”



A panel consisting of Rio Tinto representatives and a CFMEU mine site check inspector will be considering the case within the next few weeks. According to a spokesperson from the mine, the company had clear standards which upheld the rights of all employees but other companies can save themselves this kind of problem by educating employees including management about bullying and monitoring the situation on worksites regularly. Employers should never wait until the situation gets out of hand before addressing the problem, especially when there are a number of workers making the same complaints. Ignoring even one complaint is bad enough, but when it takes 8 workers lodging complaints for action to be taken, the situation is out of hand.

Not only do allegations such as this one affect the corporate image of a company, it affects productivity and as research has proven bullying costs companies in Oz billions of dollars every year.

A survey conducted by Drake International earlier this year which questioned 800 employees revealed that half of them had witnessed bullying in the workplace and at least 25 per cent had actually been victims of bullying themselves. Much of this bullying occurs from the top down and employers have a financial incentive to address this type of behaviour before it affects workplace productivity and the company’s bottom line.

WorkCover Tasmania launches Workplace Bullying Research

WorkCover Tasmania has launched a new workplace bullying research initiative with the hope of developing strategiesand measures to overcome the problem. Despite attempts by workplace authorities to clamp down on bullying in the workplace, it is still rife among the Australian workforce and WorkCover Tasmania is attempting to tackle the issue as it relates specifically to their region.

A WorkCover board member, Kevin Harkins said that the research would look at both individual and organisations perceptions and experience with bullying, this would help in the formation of strategies to reduce the impact of workplace bullying.

Bullying is not limited to any one industry and is seldom stereotypical such as a boss bullying his/her subordinates. One of the problems the research aims to tackle is getting a more in-depth and state specific idea of the problem because in the past most of the research around bullying has been centred at a national and international level, little data specific to Tasmania is available – this is something the Bullying Project research program aims to overcome.

The research will begin with a state-wide telephone survey of the community followed by more in-depth interviews with respondents who have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying first hand within the past 6 months. Thereafter a survey of Tasmanian organisations will take place, which will involve looking at how they dealt with bullying within their organisations, relevant policies and procedures and the impact of bullying on the workplace.

The following excerpt from a post on explains more about WorkCover Tasmania’s efforts:

af39fb9896b7b2555d56b39ef13e56c4Mr Harkins said bullying had a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of the targeted individuals and could result in depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, headaches, lowered self-esteem and even suicidal thoughts.

“The negative impacts often also extend to families, with the individual withdrawing or taking out their anger and frustration at home. “Time off work is often then required to treat the physical and psychological effects of bullying, or the person leaves their job, which may add financial pressure to the family, further compounding an already difficult situation.”

Research findings will provide the basis for a comprehensive strategy to combat bullying and its effects on workplaces and individuals in Tasmania.


The Workplace Bullying Project Team is made up of representatives from the WorkCover Tasmania Board, Workplace Standards and the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. The team will be looking into the definition of workplace bullying as well as attempting to identify initiatives to raise awareness about the issue, stressing that inappropriate behaviour such as any form of bullying will not be tolerated. The team will also be looking into the development of management systems and how these can be implemented at an organisational level.

Mr Harkins also explained what the team will be looking into on an individual level:

“On an individual level, the strategy will also look at early intervention methods, support mechanisms and quality information for individuals, as well as ensuring external intervention is readily available to resolve issues of bullying.”


Dealing with Harassment in the workplace

A key problematic issue identified in the building industry is bullying. Bullying has been linked to depression and a high suicide rate in the construction industry. In this post I attempt to discuss the problem of workplace harassment and how to deal with it, an issue particularly relevant in the macho, male dominated industry.

It is important when discussing harassment or bullying in the workplace to first identify what it actually entails for example sometimes people may mistake direction or correction by their employer as bullying when in fact they are simply doing their job. When these employers or supervisors begin to use derogatory language or be abusive or behave in an intimidating way then it crosses over into bullying. It is important for workers to recognise the difference.

Workplace harassment is:

  • repeated, unwelcome and unsolicited
  • the person considers to be offensive, intimidating, humiliating or threatening
  • a reasonable person would consider to be offensive, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.


Harassment or bullying in the workplace can be committed by employers, workers, co-workers, groups of people at work, customers and even members of the public.

Workers that bully and intimidate others are most commonly experiencing some sort of emotional problem themselves which they project onto others. These individuals as well as those who are the victims of bullying need to seek help from a counsellor or mental health professional, instead of attempting to deal with this issue themselves because this is what often leads to depression and suicide.

For more information on workplace bullying and harassment visit


Warning to Employers: Beware of Subordinate Bullying

When we think of Bullying in the workplace we commonly assume it occurs at the hands of a co-worker but bosses can often times also be bullies, a problem they are being warned about by authorities.

Not only does bullying disrupt work on the site, setting back productivity but it creates a very stressful and negative atmosphere where accidents can result. Because workers that are bullied are under so much pressure, it is difficult for them to concentrate and this could compromise their safety and the safety of everyone on site.

Many times bullying incidents go unreported because of fear of victimisation. Commonly younger or more inexperienced workers who are being bullied may not have the knowledge of how to react correctly in this situation in addition to fearing their superiors and often those bullying them. Changes to the Fair Work Act could change all this for the better because workers can go directly to Fair Work and no longer need to follow the chain of command within their company.

Proposed changes to the Fair Work Act will mean that employers who do not have effective procedures in place to manage workplace bullying may be subjected to wide-ranging orders by the Fair Work Commission which may even include penalties of up to $33,000.

The new reform favours workers who fear victimisation from their employer or HR department because they would no longer have to consult their boss or HR manager before going directly to Fair Work. They would be able to go straight to Fair Work Australia with their complaints.

What’s interesting about the reform is that even unintentional bullies will be held accountable for their actions such as those managers who do not address bullies in their workforce.

Read what this post on reported on the proposed changes:

Fair-Work-AustraliaOne of Australia’s leading experts in human resource management and workplace investigations, Christina Turner said many organisations were unaware of the proposed workplace law reforms which were recently recommended by the House of Representatives Standing Committee and largely accepted by the Federal Government.

“The reforms mean employees who feel they have been bullied or harassed can go directly to Fair Work Australia without consulting their manager or their internal human resources manager, she said.

“Many managers are unaware that there has never actually been any state or federal legislation which specifically covers bullying until now.”

Mrs Turner said there was no “national definition of bullying” and because of that it can be largely misinterpreted in the workforce, leaving senior managers and company directors liable to potential litigation.

“Even unintentional bullying will be captured under the new reforms,” she said.

“Classic bullying is often obvious but avoiding a problem staff member because they are difficult to manage can also be classified as bullying.

“Anybody in a position of control could be liable.”


Hopefully being held liable will force employers and those in charge to address bullying and stop the vicious trend in our workplaces which has led to the suicide death of so many workers.