Regulators issue call to stamp out work-related violence

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.
Friday, 24 September, 2021 - 12:00
Industry news
National News

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a warning about work-related violence as COVID-19 testers, vaccination staff and other frontline workers sometimes face aggression from members of the public.

Community attitudes must continue to change in order to stamp out unacceptable behaviour, said WorkSafe Victoria acting executive director of health and safety Andrew Keen.

“It’s distressing to see the anger and at times physical violence aimed at workers, particularly those who are putting their own welfare on the line to help keep the rest of us healthy and safe in these uncertain times,” he said.

“Whether it is a nurse, doctor, police officer, bus driver or retail worker, this behaviour is unacceptable because of the crippling psychological and physical trauma it causes.”

Work-related violence can also cause severe distress and mental injuries to those who witness it, but many incidents still go unreported.

Violence in the workplace can range from verbal abuse, yelling, spitting, swearing, demeaning language to gendered violence and physical assault.

He said awareness of the impact that work-related violence can have on workers is growing as a result of WorkSafe’s “It’s Never Ok” campaign.

Campaign tracking data shows that half of Victorians are now aware of the central message, with awareness and understanding of the issue highest amongst employers.

Employers who saw the ads were also more likely to acknowledge that it is their responsibility to protect their workers from all forms of violence.

Workers who saw the campaign said they would be more likely to report incidents than those who didn’t.

The campaign is being supported with messaging to employers to remind them of their obligations, and this includes targeted inspection programs in high risk industries and the provision of guidance for employers.