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Sydney Safety Consultants urging employers to address workplace bullying and harassment before stress related illness becomes the leading cause of the global disease burden


NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia, January, 2013 – Safe Work Australia has revealed that depression costs Australia employers approximately AUD $8 billion per annum as a result of sickness absence and presenteeism and AUD$693 million per annum of this is due to job strain and bullying. Bullying in the work place and work related stress represents a ‘huge cost’ for worker health and productivity and the problem is so serious, that it is predicted that by 2020, stress-related illnesses such as depression and cardiovascular disease will be the leading causes of the global disease burden.
Australians are either working too hard or taking too many days off. Workers showing mild symptoms of depression take twice as many sick days as those who do not show any symptoms of depression at all. At the other end of the spectrum, long working hours are also a major issue with 18 per cent of Australians working longer than 48 hours per week.
Work-family conflict is one of the major contributors to poor health and wellbeing. Workers aged between 25 – 34 years have the poorest psychological health with likely contributing factors such as competing work and family demands as well as entering the workforce following study, working hard and using long hours to advance in their careers.
The Safe Work Australia report “The Australian Workplace Barometer: report on psychosocial safety climate and worker health in Australia” was released in December 2012. The Australian Workplace Barometer project aims to provide science driven evidence of Australian work conditions and their relationships to workplace health and productivity, through a national monitoring and surveillance system.
The report raised reason for serious concern regarding levels of bullying and harassment with results from the AWB show that levels of bullying are at 6.8 per cent, which are substantially higher than international rates.
Safety Consultants Australia, a Sydney-based safety consultant company, has found that “organisations spend a great deal of time and energy in dealing with individual cases of bullying and harassment. While it is very important to manage these complaints professionally and compassionately, organisations need to start addressing some of the causes”. With national legislation to deal with workplace bullying pending, “the Australian Workplace Barometer (AWB) project is such a positive step forward in raising awareness of psychosocial risks, with science driven evidence to support initiatives moving forward to address these issues” says Linda Scott, registered psychologist and General Manager for Safety Consultants Australia.
Urgent attention is needed to address harassment issues in Australian workplaces. The costs to employers can be reduced considerably through initiatives that deal with incidents of bullying and harassment appropriately, build employee communication and by creating a positive culture that enables constructive communication and inhibits bullying behaviour.
Safety Consultants Australia has prepared a risk management approach to dealing with workplace harassment and bullying for employers, management, and employees through their Safety Hazard initiative. The integrated approach offers consulting in grievance procedures; investigation; mediation; group conflict resolution; organisational development; and legal advice and support. To learn more about managing the risk of bullying and harassment in the workplace, visit .


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 bullying in the workplace
 bullying and harassment
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