RMB Articles

Workplace Bullying puts you and your Business at Risk

Posted 19-03-2020
Written by admin 101
Category Compensation

A recent case that highlighted bullying in the workplace will not be tolerated. The RMB Compensation division reports.

Safework South Australia has successfully convicted Jeffrey Rowe for committing an offence under Section 31 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).

This is the first conviction of its kind in South Australia, and has important implications for workplaces around the nation.

Mr Rowe was a site supervisor who failed to intervene when another worker squirted flammable liquid onto the boot and shirt of an apprentice and lit the liquid on fire.

Mr Rowe did not take any steps to stop this and instead squirted more flammable liquid onto the shirt whilst it was already burning. Luckily the apprentice was not seriously injured.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Martyn Campbell said: “The health and safety of young workers is critical. This includes protecting them from psychological harm as well as physical harm. The behaviour of this supervisor was atrocious.

In his supervisory role, there is an expectation he would immediately put a stop to this type of harmful action and certainly not engage in it himself.”

Mr Rowe entered an early plea of guilty and received a 40 per cent penalty reduction. He was fined $12,000.

The other worker involved, and the employer also have ongoing court cases.

This case might sound extreme, but unfortunately situations like this traditionally have been all too common in Australian workplaces. Apprentices and other young employees have often been subjected to “initiation” rites that put them at risk.

In the past, supervisors and other senior staff often turned a “blind eye” to these practices.

However, this conviction is a reminder for workers, particularly those in leadership positions to exercise their duty of care towards other employees.

Employers should also reflect on their own practices and ensure their staff are adequately trained and that there are relevant policies and procedures in place to prevent and stop bullying in the workplace.

Employers really need to be proactive in all their workplace practices and agreements. If you can get the agreement right from the beginning you can mitigate legal risks and reduce the potential for issues and disputes to arise.

RMB’s experienced Business Transactions and Dispute Resolution team can advise you and your business about putting the correct agreements and practices in place so that you comply with all the relevant legislation about providing a safe workplace, and minimise the risk of damaging staff issues arising.

If you have a similar experience or concern, and have a question, please  contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, or ask us a question via email.