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The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) bullying jurisdiction will be open for business on 1 January.

As reported in an earlier e-bulletin workers employed in constitutionally covered businesses will be able to apply directly to the FWC for an order to stop bullying.

The FWC must start dealing with a complaint within 14 days of an application being made.

It can make any order it considers appropriate to stop the bullying, apart from ordering the payment of compensation.

“Each application will be assessed at an early stage to decide whether it falls within our jurisdiction, the parties involved, the nature of the alleged bullying and how the application should be dealt with,” FWC president, The Honourable Justice Iain Ross, said.

Commissioner Peter Hampton is heading up the FWC’s anti-bullying panel.

The bullying complaint mechanism may change in the future, as the Coalition went to the Federal Election with a promise to change the laws so workers first have to seek help and advice from a regulator.

For more details, visit anti-bullying at the FWC.

Published on 19 December 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

The long-awaited bullying code of practice will now appear as a guide. Its release coincides closely with White Ribbon Day, which aims to raise awareness about ending violence against women.

A majority of Safe Work Australia members met last week and agreed to publish the first versions of the Guide for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying and the guide for workers Workplace Bullying—A Worker’s Guide.

The guides will be available by the end of November.

A guide differs from a code of practice approved under the Work Health and Safety Act in a jurisdiction as it is not automatically admissible in court proceedings as evidence of what is known about a hazard, risk or control.

White Ribbon Day will be held on 25 November and will draw attention to the high proportion of women affected by violence in our community, including in the workplace.

“Over sixty per cent of women experience some form of violence at work. Seventy five per cent report experiencing unwelcome and unwanted sexual behaviour at work,” says White Ribbon Australia.

“Twenty per cent of victims who were stalked by their previous partner reported that the perpetrator loitered outside the workplace, thereby presenting potential OH&S risks to employees and businesses.

“Domestic and family violence in Australia is conservatively estimated to directly cost employers over $484 million per annum.”

For more details on bullying and other guides and codes of practice, visit Safe Work Australia, and for more information on stopping violence at work visit White Ribbon Australia.

Published on 21 November 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

More than 50 per cent of female doctors have experienced sexual harassment by a patient, according to survey results recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Researchers Peter Bratuskins, Heather McGarry and Stephen Wilkinson surveyed 180 female Australian GPs in 2010.

More than 60 per cent of the GPs reported being asked to perform inappropriate examinations and more than 50 per cent experienced inappropriate exposure of body parts.

Other incidents included a range of behaviours, such as sexual remarks and touching or grabbing.

The researchers also reported in the MJA that workplace safety training should cover sexual harassment by patients, and policies should be implemented to support GPs.

Bratuskins, from the Department of General Practice at Monash University, told ABC News: “Most practices have their own practice manuals and protocols and I think it would be useful to make it clear to doctors working in a practice that this is something that may happen. And if it does happen it is something that should be reported, that the doctor will be supported [through] and offered help, that the patient can be excluded from the practice as well.”

For more details visit the MJA.

Published on 10 October 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Changes to bullying laws and the recently established Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal are on the cards if the Coalition wins Government on 7 September.

Under ALP laws that passed Federal Parliament in June, workers in constitutional corporations will be able to take bullying complaints directly to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) from 1 January 2014.

However, the Coalition’s election policy only supports workers complaining to the FWC after they have first sought help and advice from a regulator.

It also wants to extend the laws so managers, employers and workers can make bullying claims against union officials.

The ALP’s recently established Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal may also be in jeopardy.

As the Coalition remains unconvinced about the link between pay rates and safety, it will review the tribunal’s operations if it wins government.

Among other policies and announcements, the Coalition has also said it would hold a judicial inquiry into the ALP’s home insulation scheme.

Tragically, four people died while working for home insulation installers.

As at 23 August, 109 people had already died this year in work incidents across a range of industries, says Safe Work Australia statistics.

This includes 26 people in transport, postal and warehousing, 27 people in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and 15 people in construction.

Last year, 212 people were reported to have died at work.

No judicial inquiry is being held into why people are also dying in other industries.

Other Coalition and ALP policy positions are available on each party’s respective website.

For more details, visit the Coalition, ALP and Safe Work Australia 

An investigation into bullying at the CSIRO has raised the possibility of establishing an integrity unit to deal with the problem.

“We are inclining towards recommending to CSIRO that it establish a discrete Conduct Integrity Unit to manage workplace bullying, other significant inter-personal misconduct and issues relating to scientific integrity,” the investigator’s report says.

Emeritus Professor Dennis Pearce AO is leading the two-phase investigation, which has so far found that bullying is under reported at the scientific organisation.

It has also found that informal bullying complaints are left to individuals to fix with support from the organisation.

The investigator’s report says the CSIRO needs to shift its thinking: “It should be the Organisation’s responsibility to ‘fix’ the problem, although not without support from the individual.”

Despite these and other findings, the report says the bullying problems uncovered at the organisation are no different to those in other organisations.

“We do not expect that the problems we have referred to above are unique to CSIRO,” the report says.

“We do not say that CSIRO is any better or any worse at responding to workplace bullying complaints than any other organisation. It has simply not been our role to measure comparative performance.”

The investigation is ongoing.

For more details, visit the report and the CSIRO

Published on 15 August 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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