Using the Safe Work Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice to Stop Workplace Bullying

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Using the Safe Work Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice to Stop Workplace Bullying

In recent years, there has been an increase in workers’ compensation claims related to
workplace bullying, despite the introduction of anti-bullying orders in 2013. This issue is
something we all need to be aware of, no matter our age. Laws, rules, and contracts,
along with media attention, help shape how we think about bullying. Current laws
provide a legal framework for organisations to prevent workplace bullying, but there are inconsistencies in safety guidelines that might make it seem like bullying is okay in some situations. We believe it’s time to change that, and you can help too!

Safe Work Australia is an organisation that can play a crucial role in creating safe and
respectful workplaces that are free from bullying. They’ve introduced a new code of
practice in 2022 that can make a real difference. By following this code, organisations
can create a culture of psychological safety, which means everyone feels safe and
respected at work. But we need your help to spread the word!

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other national laws, everyone
involved in a workplace – from managers to employees and even contractors – has a
duty to prevent bullying and ensure everyone’s safety. There are laws that protect
employees from bullying, discrimination, and harassment, and organisations are
responsible for following these laws. Safe work regulators are there to make sure
organisations are doing their part.

However, there are guidelines in place that may not be as effective as they should be.
The Safe Work Australia Guide from 2016 encourages minimising bullying risks but
doesn’t emphasise eliminating them. It might give the impression that meeting the
minimum requirements is enough, but we believe that more needs to be done. In some
cases, bullying is tolerated when it shouldn’t be, especially when it comes to
management actions and single acts of harassment. With limited media exposure to
workplace bullying and ineffective application of protections, it can feel like there are no consequences for breaking safety rules.

On the bright side, the Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work Code of Practice 2022
is a game-changer. It’s officially recognised under the law, and courts can use it to
determine what’s reasonable to prevent bullying. This code identifies behaviours that
need to change and helps organisations assess the risk of bullying. It also requires each workplace to figure out its own ways to prevent bullying because every place is
different. But some issues, like harassment and discrimination, can be tackled with
standardised solutions.

Safe Work Australia should update its 2016 guides to include the requirements of the
new code of practice. This would give organisations clear guidelines on how to prevent
bullying before it happens. With the right information and media attention, we can
change how people think about workplace bullying. This can create a positive change in behaviour and make sure everyone feels safe at work.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA is doing important research on workplace bullying, and
his work can help organisations of all sizes. He aims to create solutions that prevent
bullying, and he’s working towards a PhD to make that happen. Let’s join him in making workplaces safer and more respectful for everyone!
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