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Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

Which industries have the highest rates of work-related harassment and bullying claims?

On February 28, 2020, Safe Work Australia released the 2019 ‘Psychosocial health and safety and bullying in Australian workplaces’ annual statement.

Psychosocial health is the physical, mental and social state of a person. The nationally accepted definition of workplace bullying is the ‘repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety’ (Fair Work Act 2009, s.789FD(1).

Workplace bullying occurs when:

  • An individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or a group of workers at work,
    and
  • The behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

The following behaviours could also be considered as bullying, based on cases heard:

  • Aggressive and intimidating conduct.
  • Belittling or humiliating comments.
  • Victimisation.
  • Spreading malicious rumours.
  • Practical jokes or initiation.
  • Exclusion from work-related events, and
  • Unreasonable work expectations.

Reasonable management action conducted in a reasonable manner does not constitute workplace bullying.

This report presents the statistics of workers compensation claims when the work-related injury or disease resulted from the person experiencing mental stress or being exposed to mentally stressful situations. The report excludes assault cases where the physical injuries were considered more serious than the mental stress involved in the incident.

The mental stress claims data includes a sub-category for work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying. This sub-category is given to claims when the employee was a victim of:

  • Repetitive assault and/or threatened assault by a work colleague or colleagues, or
  • Repetitive verbal harassment, threats, and abuse from a work colleague or colleagues.

This is the fifth annual national statement issued by Safe Work Australia.

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because Victorian data is not coded to that level of detail.

Key statistics in the report

 

Rates for both mental stress and harassment and/or bullying claims have risen over the last two years but they are less than the peak in 2010–11. Jurisdictional legislation is highly likely to have influenced the scope of claims involving mental stress over the reporting period.
 

Figure 1. Number, time lost, direct cost, frequency rate and incidence rate for mental stress claims, 2016–17

*Victoria only provides data on the top-level category of mental stress claims, so is included in the total but not the breakdown of sub‑categories. As a result, figures for the total mental stress claims may not equal the sum of columns.

**The Other harassment sub-category includes victims of sexual or racial harassment by a person or persons including work colleague/s.

Notes:

  1. The mechanism of incident classification identifies the overall action, exposure or event that best describes the circumstances that resulted in the most serious injury or disease.
  2. In previous statements, the amount of median compensation paid were calculated after excluding ‘zero dollar’ claims. In this report, all serious claims (including ‘zero dollar’ claims) have been included in calculations.

 

 Claims for harassment and/or bullying made by female employees were more than twice as high as the rate of these claims made by males over the three years 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined. Similarly, the rates for claims made by females relating to work pressure and exposure to workplace or occupational violence were more than twice that of similar claims made by males.

 

Figure 2. Frequency rates by sex and mental stress sub-category, 2015–16 to 2017–18p combined

 

Note: Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.


 Occupations with a high risk of exposure to work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include:

  • Other miscellaneous and administrative workers*(includes coding clerks, production assistants, proof readers, radio dispatchers & examination supervisors.
  • Other clerical and office support workers group** includes classified advertising clerks, meter readers & parking inspectors.
  • Other miscellaneous labourers.

Figure 3. Top 10 occupations with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined.

*** Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

Industry groups with high rates of claims involving work-related harassment and/or workplace bullying include Public order and safety services; Civic, Professional and other interest group services; and Residential care services.

 

4. Top 10 industry groups with the highest frequency rates of work-related harassment and/or bullying, 2015–16 to 2017–18 combined

 

* Police in Western Australian are covered by a separate workers’ compensation scheme and not included in the data.

Notes:

  1. Industries are limited to those associated with more than 50 claims.
  2. Data presented for mental stress are national figures but data for subcategories of mental stress exclude Victoria because its data are not coded to that level of detail.

Want to elevate your leadership capacity?

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Want this program customised for your workplace and industry?
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Dreamworld Coroner finds leadership culpable

Dreamworld Coroner finds leadership culpable

On 25 October 2016, a tragic incident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids Ride (TRRR) at Dreamworld Theme Park, claiming four lives.

 

The 30-year-old TRRR ride was a water based family orientated ‘moderate thrill ride’ where patrons simulated white water rafting in a circular raft, suitable for patrons over the age of two, with the option of having children seated on an adult’s lap.

On that day Raft 5 became stranded on steel support rails situated at the end of the rides’ conveyor belt and it continued to travel where it collided with another raft before being lifted and pulled vertically into the conveyor mechanism. However, Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorsett, Cindy Low and Roozbeh Araghi were caught in the mechanism of the ride, and were either trapped in the raft or ejected into the water beneath the conveyor. Although ride operators and some patrons immediately responded, the four were declared deceased at the scene. Two children, aged 10 and 12, seated at the top of Raft 5 were able to free themselves and escape to safety.

Beginning 2018,  Coroner James McDougall ‘s inquest examined the circumstances that caused the fatalities, including:

  • The construction, maintenance, safety measures, staffing, history and modifications of the ride.
  • The sufficiency of the training provided to staff in operating the ride.
  • The regulatory environment and applicable standards by which amusement park rides operate in Queensland and Australia.
  • What further actions and safety measures could be introduced to prevent a similar future incident from occurring.

Coroner James McDougall handed down his findings on Feb 24 2020 telling the Queensland court that there was a “total” and “systemic failure by Dreamworld to ensure all aspects of safety” and referred parent company Ardent Leisure for possible prosecution.

The findings included:

  • That the design and construction of the TTTR ride “posed significant risk” to patrons.
  • “Dreamworld could, and should, have identified the safety issues” but there was no evidence of an engineering assessment on the TTTR ride in 30 years.
  • There were “frighteningly unsophisticated systems” in place, that “shoddy record-keeping was a significant contributor to this incident and contributed to the masking of the real risk of the ride” and that the likelihood of a serious accident “was simply a matter of time”.
  • The responsibilities placed on operational staff was stressful and “clearly unreasonable and excessive” which included monitoring of the pumps, CCTV, air pressure of the gates and queue lines. Operating the ride was “complex, confusing” and the ride lacked the “required labelling”, with ride operators having to perform more than a dozen tasks in the space of a single minute.
  • Each of the trained ride operators, noted that a requirement the role was to watch the water level, done by looking at an informal ‘scum’ mark around the trough of the ride, as well as the buoyancy of the rafts at the load and unload station, and whether they were sitting on the rails.
  • There was also evidence of “an inherent lack of proper training and process in place at Dreamworld to ensure the training provided to new Ride Operators and Instructors was suitable for the roles and responsibilities to be undertaken.”

Following the Dreamworld tragedy and the in the wake of the deaths of two workers at the Eagle Farm racecourse, Queensland introduced the charge of industrial manslaughter in 2017. Under those laws Ardent Leisure, Dreamworld’s parent company, would faces fines of up to $3 million, with individual executives facing up to $600,000 and five years’ jail.

However, this law does apply retrospectively and the industrial manslaughter provisions only apply to the deaths of workers, not visitors to a workplace.

Coroner McDougall said he “reasonably suspected” Ardent Leisure had committed an offence under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and advised he would be referring the company to the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations to consider prosecutions. In 2017 Queensland Police advised that no criminal charges would be laid against Dreamworld staff over the fatalities.

Coroner McDougall stated in his remarks that “such a culpable culture can exist only when leadership from the board (of Dreamworld’s parent company, Ardent Leisure) down are careless in respect of safety … that cannot be allowed.”

Download the complete Coroner’s report:

https://www.awu.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/10545784-final-dreamworld-draft-6-for-upload_compressed.pdf

Ready to train your people in risk management, hazard identification and subcontractor management?

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You can see our full program suite here >> or see some relevant units below:

Risk Assessment & Hazard Identification

This program helps you identify and describe the difference between a hazard and a risk, and introduces a way of thinking about hazard identification and risk management as an everyday activity.

It will also enhance the skills and capabilities of leaders in the areas of hazard identification, risk analysis and identification and how to implement appropriate risk controls.

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Learn to effectively manage WHS site risks and performance by learning how to effectively select, manage and monitor the complex and difficult world of subcontractors.  It also covers the WHS obligations regarding subcontractors, stepping through the various stages of effective subcontractor management, including assessing, evaluating safety history, attitude and managing expectations of performance and reporting.

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Want to find out more about how we can customise our programs to your industry and organisation?
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The National Centre for Vocational Education Research surveyed graduates of our nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) programs.

This report provides a summary of the outcomes of students who completed nationally recognised VET programs during 2018, using data collected in mid-2019. The figures are derived from the National Student Outcomes Survey.

 

Here’s the highlights :

 

%

97% were satisfied with the overall quality of our training

%

93.7% would recommend our training

%

96.4% would recommend us as their training provider.

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89.3% achieved their main reason for doing the training.

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https://www.ncver.edu.au/

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How to support your staff through traumatic events

How to support your staff through traumatic events

For many, 2020 has been a rough start to the year.

With the horrific bushfires in Australia and fear of the spread of Coronavirus globally and locally, many workplaces are dealing with staff directly or indirectly impacted by trauma emanating from these events.

Some lost loved ones, their homes and/or animals in the fires or are close to those who have. They may have fought the fires with the CFA on behalf of grateful communities, helped their neighbours or friends defend their homes or evacuate from harm’s way under intense circumstances. Family or friends may be isolated or quarantined in the Coronavirus response or are waiting on tenterhooks for news on affected relatives or friends.  Both of these situations are ongoing.

Emotionally and physically so many Aussies have been traumatised, so what can you, a colleague or supervisor do to help?

Everyone deals with trauma differently.  There is no ‘right way’.  Some will want to talk about it whilst others won’t.  Some find it difficult to focus or will withdraw, while others are all talk.  Some are emotional whilst others behave just like they did before the events. What is common to all is what they’ll need from you as their workmate or Manager.


Listen

Truly listen.  This is not interrupting them with your own view on what has happened, cutting them short or telling them how they ‘should’ be feeling, for example “aren’t you angry at those darn pollies“? It is not about making them feel their reaction is wrong or ‘making’ them talk about it if they don’t want to.

Listening is being present in the moment with them.  Listening is letting them share what they wish to (or not). Listening is letting them express as little or as much as they wish.  Listening is not judging.  Listening is accepting a perspective and allowing them to share.  Whatever their reaction, remind yourself they are having a very normal response to a very abnormal and traumatic event, and let them express what and how they feel in a way appropriate to them.


Acknowledge

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not.
The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone”.

Robin Williams

Acknowledge how they feel. When you acknowledge how someone feels they feel supported and not alone. Statements such as “I can’t imagine how frightened you would have been” are appropriate. Everyone will feel differently as everyone’s experience is different – sad, angry, frightened, scared or frustrated – empathise and acknowledge their feelings and accept their reaction as just that – their unique reaction.

The worst thing you can do is tell them how they ’should be feeling’ or what you think they should do to fix, or get relief from the situation. They won’t feel listened to or heard.  When you are present, listen deeply and acknowledge how they feel – they will feel heard and supported and most importantly, not alone.


Support

Know the difference between listening and acknowledging vs counselling.  As a Manager or work colleague it is not our role to provide counselling at work.  Rather, our role is to support people the best way we can, and when it comes to the psychological side of dealing with trauma, this support includes encouraging them to seek professional support.

Never attempt to provide counselling to others unless you are qualified to do so.  Why?  Trauma is a tricky topic to integrate and process, and you may do more harm than good if you venture into this territory (even with the best intent) without the skills and knowledge to truly help.  Also, the workplace is often a refuge for people experiencing trauma and to blur boundaries by attempting to help them ‘process’ emotion at work, can have countless side effects.

Your role is to listen, acknowledge and support.  This support may include referrals to a professional and often practical help such as flexible work hours or working from home, time off, food, clothing or housing or perhaps reduced workloads.  These supports are needed, wanted and will show you care without venturing into territory where you are not qualified to offer advice.

Listenacknowledgesupport. Three simple steps that will make a huge difference.

Where you or your staff can get support

Lifeline
13 11 14
Lifeline provides free, 24-hour Telephone Crisis Support service in Australia. Volunteer Crisis Supporters provide suicide prevention services, mental health support and emotional assistance, not only via telephone but face-to-face and online.

Beyond Blue
1300 22 4636
Beyond Blue is an Australian independent non-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, suicide, anxiety disorders and other related mental disorders

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health 
(02) 6285 3100
A national platform for multicultural communities and Australian mental health services to access resources, services and information in a culturally accessible format.

Headspace
1800 650 890
Free online and telephone service that supports young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families going through a tough time.

Want to be a better leader?

Designed for emerging leaders, in the BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership and Management you’ll learn how to provide leadership and guidance to others in the workplace and to manage effective, motivated, high performing teams in all types of organisations and industries.

This program is customised to your organisations needs and timeline with time between the sessions to enable staff to to trial their new skills within the workplace supported by an expert management facilitator.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs contact us on 1300 453 555, info@safetydimensions.com.au or click here.

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What happens in an unsafe work environment? (Video)

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read more
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