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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Editorial Archive

Is there violence, bullying and harassment in your workplace?

Sheila Pantry OBE
April 2011

Violence, bullying and harassment are becoming increasingly common features of European workplaces, according to a new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Yet the response from organisations and national governments is widely felt to be inadequate.

Third party violence and harassment affect from 5% to 20% of European workers, depending on the country, sector, and methodology employed. The report Workplace Violence and Harassment: A European Picture includes international statistics collected by the European Risk Observatory, part of EU-OSHA. Its recent pan-European workplace survey ESENER shows that 40% of European managers are concerned by workplace violence and harassment, but only around 25% have implemented procedures to deal with it - in many EU countries not more than 10%. The problem is even more acute in health and social work and in education with more than 50% of managers identifying it as a health and safety problem.

"Both violence and harassment represent serious but under-reported threats to the safety and wellbeing of workers in Europe", says Agency Director Jukka Takala. "Violence, verbal aggression or threats that employees experience with customers or patients are critical health and safety issues. And the psychological consequences are sometimes more dangerous than physical wounds. Workplace harassment can lead to stress, long-term sick leave, and even suicide. Economic consequences are reduced productivity, increased sickness absence, higher turnover of staff and premature retirement due to disability at often early ages."

The report also reveals that in many European countries there is still not enough recognition of workplace violence, with few specific initiatives dealing with the issue. At national level and among individual organisations there is a need to raise awareness, and put in place policies and procedures to tackle and prevent violence and harassment at work.

EU-OSHA brought together policy makers, researchers and employers' and employees' representatives in a two-day seminar to discuss the challenges in tackling workplace violence effectively, and to identify new and concrete ways to protect workers' health and wellbeing, tailored to specific needs in countries and organisations.


Don't re-invent the wheel... learn from others

The electronic services OSH UPDATE and FIREINF will help you and your organisation to keep up-to-date. These services continue to bring you the latest information on health, safety, environment, fire and other subjects that you will find useful in your daily work.

OSHWORLD - your portal to some of the best OSH web sites in the world

Also look at the portal OSHWORLD and view the latest additions to the Diary of Events where you will see that plans have been made up to late 2011 and now into 2012 to have training courses, symposiums, webinars and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Don't forget to budget for these events - make sure that you and your colleagues are up-to-date with the very latest knowledge - remember that all workplaces and those working in them change, so continue to do your risk assessments.

In these days of tighter budgets perhaps training may be put on the "back-burner" - but think again how you can keep up with the latest techniques and training opportunities.

Remember that even if you cannot attend these many events, speakers and organisers are often willing to share their knowledge. Look at the details - where possible, we add in the web sites of these events so you can request further information. And do let me know if you are organising any OSHE events so that I can add them to the Diary.

It is always good to review health, safety, chemical, fire and environment procedures on a regular basis. It is also important that the practices and systems in the workplace are constantly reviewed and if necessary, improved. This review may also indicate training requirements and updates and re-thinking how systems and services can be improved. This is where the free-of charge OSHWORLD can help you.

Globally there are continually new titles, news items, new products so remember to look at the News to find the latest information from a number of authoritative sources such as the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the UK Health and Safety Executive and US NIOSH. Use OSHWORLD as your portal to many hundreds of validated and authoritative web sites which you can find in the Country and Subject links we offer. New subject topics are constantly brought together on web sites, e.g. nanotechnology.

This month's FOCUS is entitled 28 April 2011 - International Workers' Memorial Day "Remember the Dead - Fight for the Living" World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

On the 28 April 2011 pause and remember those that have lost their lives or have been made ill through workplace activities.

Remember to look at the Products and Services on this web site and see what is new and updated.

Likewise both OSH UPDATE and FIREINF services containing both full text and bibliographic information are continuously enlarged as new information is published. These services are used by organisations, universities and companies worldwide.

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Don't work harder - work smarter! Be ahead of the game.

Are you hoping to have a zero accident, incident-free and healthy year in 2011 in your workplace? Some would argue that this is not possible! But keep on trying!

And do continue to make plans for your campaigns for 2011 and beyond!