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Date PostedOctober 29, 2012

Bullying Not Just a Schoolyard Problem

Source : Elizabeth Albert

Contrary to what many people may believe bullying is not just reserved for the school yard. Bullying occurs even on work sites and is unacceptable at any level.

Although bullying is associated with childishness, there are workers, supervisors, managers and even employers who engage in bullying their co-workers and employees.

Although many people may seem to ignore the bullying, it can take a huge emotional toll which in the long run can have serious consequences.

One of the consequences of being bullied is the impact it has on people’s work and ability to adequately perform their job tasks. A lack of job satisfaction often leads to mistakes and an increase in absenteeism.

The first step in taking action is to determine whether the undesirable behaviour that you are experiencing is bullying or just management doing their job by instructing you  regarding work activities.

Management do have a right to transfer you, demote, discipline, counsel, retrench or fire you for valid reasons. However if it is preceded by intimidating or bullying behaviour then it may be unacceptable.

Employers do not have a right to unreasonably overload a person with work, set timelines that are very difficult or impossible to achieve, require a person to perform tasks beyond the training, knowledge or capability, ignore or isolate a worker, deny access to information or training that they provide to other workers, unfairly treat workers in regards to leave, training and other entitlements.

Superiors (and in fact all workers) are not allowed to make repeatedly hurtful remarks, sexual harass, play mind games, shove, push, trip, intimidate, threaten, gang up or engage in any uninvited and harmful physical contact with you.

Employers and supervisors have a right to give you instructions of work to do, as long as they are reasonable and done in a professional manner. They also have the right to move you, demote you, assess your work and give you guidance if they feel your work is not up to standard, this is not bullying.

Many workers who suffer at the hands of workplace bullies and do not do anything about it suffer from depression which can lead to suicide or other similar consequences, because they are not aware of the options available to them.

An employer, by law has a responsibility to ensure that workers are provided with a safe working environment. If workers are being bullied, they should follow the formal reporting procedures. If their employers do not take action to resolve the issue, they may be found guilty of breaching their responsibility of providing a safe work environment.

An example of unacceptable workplace bullying is the case involving a young waitress who, frustrated with being bullied at work, committed suicide. BrodiePanlock was tormented to the extent of suicide by co-workers in 2006.  Four men who worked with her were convicted and fined between $10,000 and $45,000 each under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the owner of the business was fined $220,000.

This incident should serve as a warning not only to workplace bullies, who disregard the feelings and wellbeing of others in order to satisfy their own need for dominance and narcissism as well as employers who disregard this type of unacceptable behaviour especially if they want to avoid costly fines that can cripple a business.


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

Posted in General Construction, White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles Tagged with: , , ,


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