Last year in B.C., WorkSafeBC responded to 931 specific complaints of bullying and harassment in the workplace.
More than 3,400 enquires were made to WorkSafeBC related to bullying and harassment. Of those enquires, 17 per cent came from the health-care sector, 10 per cent came from hospitality, eight per cent came from construction and eight per cent from the retail industry.
“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,” says Al Johnson, head of prevention services with WorkSafeBC. “No one should be subject to bullying and harassment at work.”
The numbers are down slightly from 2020 when WorkSafeBC received 3,509 enquiries and 1,001 filed complaints.
Bullying and harassment can take many forms. WorkSafeBC says some behaviours and comments that might constitute harassment and bullying include verbal aggression, personal attacks, as well as intimidating and humiliating behaviours. While bullying and harassment can occur between employers and employees, it can also occur with customers, clients and other members of the public.
Bullying and harassment can have knock-on impacts in the workplace, leading to distraction and poor judgement which increases the risk of workplace injuries.
WorkSafeBC has launched a new initiative to reduce bullying and harassment in the workplace. The initiative will focus on small businesses with limited resources and vulnerable industry sectors with younger workers or high job insecurity, as well as industries with a large number of complaints submitted to WorkSafeBC.
An emphasis will be placed on educating employers about harassment, ensuring that policies explicitly prohibit bullying and harassment, as well as thoroughly investigating complaints.
“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.