Bystanders, safety hazards and prevention of harm – “what you do or don’t do”

Occupational health and safety (OHS) relies on workers to “blow the whistle” on the existence of hazards to their employers, even though the process is not considered whistleblowing. The avoidance of many workplace hazards has always relied on bystanders – one’s work colleagues who may say “watch out!” In recent years, the action of notifying employers and authorities of hazards, and of drawing colleagues’ attention to0 hazards has increased in prominence and debate, especially around the issue of psychological harm and, a subset of that harm – sexual harassment.

In September 2019, the Victorian Government released what it describes as a toolkit on bystander interventions in relation to sexual harassment and sexism. The full document is useful but, as with many government guidances on this issue, almost ignores the role of health and safety management in the prevention and reduction of this type of hazard.

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Categories business, consultation, Duty of Care, government, harassment, OHS, politics, Premium, psychosocial, safety, Uncategorized, WorkSafe