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SLC 2018: Workplace Bullying is a Safety Issue

What might start out as harmless banter could lead to workplace harassment.

Bullying, harrassment and violence (BHV) are safety issues in the workplace, even though they normally fall to human resource departments.

I. David Daniels, president and CEO of ID2 Solutions, explained the safety professional's role when it comes to protecting workers from violence on the job at the 2018 Safety Leadership Conference in Louisville.

"Your services could be suffering because workers were not treated correctly in their position," he told attendees.

What ends as a violent act starts out slowly as incivility, or the intent to harm a worker. Negative interactions or jobs at someone could be brushed off as a cultural norm at the workplace. However, this could escalate to hazing or harassment and progresses to a physical act.

"We are we not having conversations about the value of kindness in the workplace?" I. David Daniels said.

Workplace violence falls under OSHA's general duty clause, stating the companies have to create a safe and healthy environment for workers. 

Prevention, training and programs fall into a company's safety management system (SMS). Daniels outlined steps a safety professional should take:

  • Recognize bullying, harassment and violence as a safety hazard in the group or organization.
  • Establish a plan to address the hazard that includes processes for reporting.
  • Provide training to members of the organization at the awareness, supervisor and management level.
  • Integrate into the organization's SMS.

Daniels outlined some of the goals of an effective safety management system, and how workplace violence prevention can be integrated.

Goal #1: Involves engaging people and working in partnership to make safety a shared responsibility, recognizing the value of cross-level teamwork
Actions: Provide training on how to prevent BHV including case studies from the organization. Encourage everyone at all levels to "see something, say something."

Goal #2: Organization and structure to achieve and maintain high standards of safety performance
Actions: Include leading and lagging indicators of BHV in performance management systems. Assign the responsibility for investigating reports of BHV to the safety professional and addressing behavior to HR.

Goal #3: Is proactive, preventative and integrated into the culture of your organization
Actions: Use verified reports of BHV as a component of the assessment of promotion and appointment to supervisory roles. Support HR and other efforts to create a respectful workplace.

"Bullying, harassment and violence should be part of the conversation," Daniels said. "It will create awareness that will prevent situations later on."

TAGS: Safety
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