Workplace bullying and harassment in Canada

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This is a guest blog post by Ellen Cobb of Isosceles Group in Boston, a Nimonik affiliate. Ellen is an expert consultant on workplace bullying and harassment issues.

Occupational health and safety laws have long dealt with physical risks, and now psychological risks are beginning to be treated similarly.  Workplace bullying, also referred to as harassment, is one of those risks.  Bullying in the workplace covers a wide variety of negative workplace behaviors including verbal threats, personal attacks, humiliation, and deliberate isolation of a colleague.  Separate incidents may be relatively innocuous but are often sustained or persistent in character, with a cumulative negative effect.

On Aug. 29, 2012 CareerBuilder-Canada released results of their Workplace Bullying survey of 552 full-time employed Canadians (non-government, not self-employed).  The major results indicated that 45% of respondents said they were bullied (survey did not provide a definition allowing people to use their own).  The source of bullying was as follows: 24% coworker, 23% immediate boss, 17% higher manager, 17% external to company (e.g., customers).

Other research has shown that workplaces in which bullying is allowed to occur undermine the pursuit of a business’ growth and profitability and may lead to a detrimental impact on the corporate image with the public at large.  The costs of workplace bullying include time and production lost due to factors which include employees’ preoccupation with negative circumstances, and resulting costs to the company’s overhead, loss of skill and experience when a worker leaves due to being bullied, and time spent training his/her replacement, lowered employee morale, medical and insurance costs, provision of counseling services, and harm to a company’s reputation.

In today’s workplaces, the approach by management to OHS should emphasize both physical and psychological health. Canada has enacted a number of laws covering both bullying and violence in the workplace. We are pleased to now offer checklists from The Isosceles Group covering these health and safety areas. Here are the first three checklists prepared for EHS Audit Tool for iPadand WikiChecklists, each available for $ 9.99: