Ballarat has been revealed as a hot spot for workplace bullying with WorkSafe receiving a “high number” of complaints in the past five years, the agency said.
For that reason the city this Thursday will launch WorkSafe’s three-year education program to stamp out bullying and abuse. The launch will be followed by workshops at Port of Melbourne and Pakenham later in the year.
Inspectors have also carried out more than 80 inspections of Ballarat workplaces to advise employers on preventative strategies.
“WorkSafe is targeting areas that generate a high number of individual requests for information and support in relation to bullying,” Health and Safety director Marnie Williams said.
“Over the past five years WorkSafe has received a high number of workplace bullying complaints from the Ballarat region, and it also has many people employed in risk industries including health, education and construction.”
Of the 26,000 injury claims lodged with WorkSafe last year, more than 3100 were for mental injuries and almost half of those cited bullying as the cause, Ms Williams said.
Over the past five years WorkSafe has received a high number of workplace bullying complaints from the Ballarat region.WorkSafe Health and Safety director Marnie Williams
The agency recently prosecuted a Geelong builder for the physical, psychological and verbal bullying of an 18-year-old apprentice. The builder was fined $12,500.
“The insidious nature of bullying means the damage is often done before an injured worker makes a WorkCover claim which is why it is essential employers have prevention measures in place … and deal with it immediately,” she said.
The program launch comes a year on from scathing reports into Ballarat Health Services’ workplace culture.
Two independent reports found BHS staff had consistently reported experiencing bullying; inappropriate behaviour; favouritism and nepotism; unjustified retribution, biased and partial recruitment; excessive workloads and workloads used as punishment; sexist, sectarian and racist abuse and personal harm.
WorkSafe’s Bullying and Prevention program is on Thursday, July 27 from 9am to 12.30 noon at Ballarat Golf Club. Register at worksafe.vic.gov.au.