October is National Safe Work Month, and reminds us all to re-focus our commitment to building a safe and healthy workplace for all with events occurring all across Australia. This includes ensuring workplaces are safe not only in terms of physical safety but that mental health is also considered. This includes protecting against workplace bullying and focusing on vulnerable groups in the workplace such as young workers – those under 25 years old.
A recent prosecution by WorkSafe Victoria convicted and fined a Geelong builder for repeated bullying of a teenage apprentice over a two year period. According to WorkSafe, the victim began working for the small carpentry business, Quality Carpentry and Building Maintenance, in 2013 as a 16 year old. Until he left in 2015, he suffered from incidents of verbal, physical and psychological bullying and harassment. The court heard that the business owner, Wayne Dennert, not only encouraged employees to participate in bullying behaviour against the teenage but actively participated. Some of the physical incidents included:
WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said Dennert’s behaviour had been appalling. “Not only did he use his position of power to encourage a bullying culture among his workers, he actively participated,” Ms Williams said. “No employee should have to suffer such cruel, vicious and repeated behaviour at work, particularly a young man just starting his working life. “Because of their inexperience, young workers are particularly vulnerable to psychological and physical risks in the workplace, which is why supervisors and employers must take a real interest in their health and safety.”
The Victorian Chamber, in partnership with EML, recently launched a series of resources for employers to assist with the management of young workers as part of the ‘Supporting Young Workers’ program. The resources are all freely available on the Victorian Chamber website.
In addition, Victorian Chamber members can access a sample Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying policy from our Member Resources page.
If you would like assistance in managing young worker safety or mental health in the workplace, contact the Victorian Chamber’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 8662 5333.
All media enquiries may be directed to the Media and Communications Manager.
For all other enquiries, please contact the Victorian Chamber on (03) 8662 5333.