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Editorial

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Violence and stress at work - a threat to productivity and decent work

November 2003
Sheila Pantry OBE

The ILO Draft Code of practice on violence and stress in services and new ILO book on preventing violence in the workplace shows that every year, violence and stress at work affect millions of workers and cost millions of working days around the globe. Though some stress is normal, excessive and continued stress or violence in the workplace are a threat to the quality of service, to productivity and to decent work in a variety of industries. The harmful impact of workplace violence and stress is felt in both industrialised and developing countries, and in both public and private sectors.

In response to this threat to decent work, the International Labour Organisation has been holding a meeting of experts to endorse a new code of practice on violence and stress at work, and has just published a relevant handbook on how to prevent and respond to violence in the workplace.

The draft code of practice on violence and stress at work in services entitled "A threat to productivity and decent work" was discussed at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva from 8 - 15 October 2003 by thirty- six experts representing equal numbers from ILO governments, employers and workers' groups. They were joined by observers from a number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.

Codes of practice are not intended to replace national laws or regulations or accepted standards. Codes of practice are primarily designed as a basis for prevention and protective measures, and are considered as ILO technical standards in occupational safety and health.

The new ILO publication on violence at work approaches the issue from two fronts. First, it demonstrates how workplace violence can be prevented by examining ways in which organisations and groups are handling the problem. It reviews an array of existing guidelines and policies developed by governments, trade unions, special study groups, workplace violence experts, employers' groups and specific industries, and generates a useful survey of best practice strategies. Second, the guide outlines in detail a reliable and effective methodology for developing workplace violence prevention and response programmes.

Violence at work. Third edition
Duncan Chappell and Vittorio di Martino
2006, xxiv+360 pp.
ISBN 978-92-2-117948-1
30 Sw.frs.; US$19.95; £14.95; 22 Euros

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