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WorkSafeBC sets out to address workplace bullying and harassment

WorkSafeBC is launching a new initiative to combat workplace bullying and harassment, after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints last year. Getty

The organization responsible for workplace safety and compensation in British Columbia is taking action, after it says it responded to 931 complaints of bullying and harassment last year.

During 2021, the organization received 3,400 enquiries related to workplace bullying.

Read more: Leduc fire chief resigns after sexual harassment, bullying lawsuit filed against city

In response to last year’s numbers, WorkSafeBC has launched the Bullying, Harassment and Prohibited Action Initiative designed to focus resources aimed at bolstering education, consulting and enforcement activities around workplaces.

“Workplace bullying and harassment can have far-reaching impacts on a worker’s psychological health and safety, it can lead to anxiety, depression, absenteeism, and lower productivity,” said Al Johnson, head of prevention services with WorkSafeBC on Wednesday. “No one should be subject to bullying and harassment at work.”

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According to WorkSafeBC, workplace inspections conducted in 2019 and 2020 revealed that while most employers had bullying and harassment policies and procedures in place, many were unsure of how to deal with complaints effectively.

Read more: ‘My stomach was in knots’: How to tell if you’re being bullied at work

While the initiative applies to all industries, WorkSafeBC says it intends to focus particularly on small businesses with limited resources and parts of industries with higher numbers of young workers and unstable job prospects.

“The goal of our initiative is simple, we want to ensure that employers meet their obligations to keep workers healthy and safe and free from bullying and harassment in the workplace. We are also focused on providing employers and workers with information on how to appropriately respond to harassment in the workplace,” Johnson said.

Click to play video: 'How to identify and confront workplace bullying' How to identify and confront workplace bullying
How to identify and confront workplace bullying – Feb 26, 2016

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