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Bullying at work- health and safety issue

7 August 2018

Bullying at work is a health and safety issue

Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees both mentally and physically in the workplace. This is a workplace and human relations issue and needs to be treated very seriously. It has been identified as dangerous and can lead to health and safety problems.

Bullying in the workplace can be described differently in various forms. The Health and Safety Authority describes it the following:”repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others, at the place of work and/or in the course of employment, which could reasonably be regarded as undermining the individual‘s right to dignity at work.”

Here are some examples of the types of bullying that happen in the workplace

  • Purposely undermining someone
  • Targeting someone for special negative treatment
  • Manipulation of an individual‘s reputation
  • Social exclusion or isolation
  • Intimidation
  • Aggressive or obscene language
  • Jokes that are obviously offensive to one individual by spoken word or email
  • Intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking
  • Unreasonable assignments to duties which are obviously unfavourable to one individual
  • Repeated requests with impossible deadline or impossible tasks

Employers need to be vigilant and know that individuals who are accused of bullying have employment rights too. They have to follow the correct procedure.

Bully Culture

Where a bullying culture has been identified, (through a number of complaints being received, for instance)  employers must take reasonable measures to prevent incidents of bullying occurring (through awareness raising and training as well as reacting speedily to resolve issues early/progress investigations and/or initiate control measures). When and if they bullying occurs, employers should prevent the risk of injury to the health of employees worsening by providing and implementing support and assistance throughout the process, and reviewing and monitoring the environment afterwards, as far as is reasonable..

Managers and supervisors have a particular responsibility to promote dignity in the workplace for all. They should be alert to the possibility of bullying behaviour and be familiar with the policies and procedures for dealing with allegations of bullying.  Their behaviour may be modelled by others, as it may be considered acceptable. That’s why managers, supervisors and those in authority should be aware of their own behaviour at work and not engage in improper conduct in any form.

If you are being bullied in the work or want to talk to a someone confidentially, contact us and we can give you help and support advice.