Guidance released on preventing workplace sexual harassment, violence and aggression

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 17:30
Industry news
National News

Safe Work Australia recently released new national work health and safety guidance to help organisations prevent workplace sexual harassment, violence, aggression and domestic violence.

Under Australia’s model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, employers must proactively manage risks to health and safety arising from work. This includes both physical and mental health.

The new information provides guidance to anyone who has a WHS duty to protect the health and safety of workers.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces highlighted how prevalent sexual harassment is and the harm it is causing.

But there is a lot that employers can do beyond responding to complaints.

WHS duties require employers to do everything they reasonably can to prevent sexual harassment from occurring at work, just like other risks to health and safety.

The new Guide: Preventing workplace sexual harassment is the first comprehensive WHS guidance in Australia to focus on preventing sexual harassment. The guidance supports business and organisations to meet their WHS duties with practical steps to identify risks and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Executive Director SafeWork SA, Martyn Campbell said the new guides, which SafeWork SA collaborated and provide input on, reflect sexual harassment and assault as an emerging work health safety risk.

“There has been a significant increase in discussions with a focus in recognising the responsibility of businesses to protect workers from sexual harassment and assault as an occupational hazard,” he said.

“Sexual harassment and gendered violence can take place in any workplace or industry.  We need to take these incidents as seriously as other work health safety risks.

“Managing the risks of sexual harassment and gendered violence should be part of a holistic approach to work health and safety,” said Campbell.

For more information, go to Safe Work Australia’s workplace violence and aggression web page.