US workplace bullying interview with Gary Namie

Free Access

Ben Merens of Wisconsin Public Radio interviewed Gary Namie of the Bullying Institute on 26 May 2010 for 45 minutes on his At Issue radio program.  The interview is very timely as new “Healthy Workplace” legislation is being considered in the United States.

What was useful in this interview was that the discussion centred on workplace bullying and Namie summarised how this is substantially different from schoolyard bullying – a  significant difference which requires different methods of control.  Namie says that although bullying in childhood is significant, the impact on an adult of similar treatment may have longer lasting effects.

The broadcast, of course, applies to the US context principally but Namie has a long and strong international reputation in workplace bullying advice and deserves an audience.  Tellingly, Namie says that the comparison for workplace bullying is not schoolyard bullying but domestic violence.

In 2001, Namie provided me with a review copy the 2000 edition of The Bully At Work for the SafetyATWORK magazine.  The review is available HERE.

Kevin Jones

International Women’s Day (of safety)

Free Access

The global theme for the 2009 International Women’s Day (8 March 2009) is 

“Women and men united to end violence against women and girls”

The organising committee is at pains to stress that although this is a global theme, individual nations, individual states and organisations are able to set their own themes.  Some themes already chosen include

  • Australia, UNIFEM: Unite to End Violence Against Women 
  • Australia, QLD Office for Women: Our Women, Our State 
  • Australia, WA Department for Communities: Sharing the Caring for the Future 
  • UK, Doncaster Council: Women’s Voices and Influence 
  • UK, Welsh Assembly Government: Bridging the Generational Gap

Given that Australian health care workers suffer occupational violence, amongst many other sectors, and that employers are obliged to assist workers who may be subjected to violence at work or the consequences of non-work-related violence, it seems odd that so often the major advocates of International Women’s Day remain the unions.

It is also regrettable that many of the themes internationally and locally are responding to negatives rather than motivating action from strengths.

As is indicated from the list above, the public sector agencies are keen to develop programs around the international day.  The societal and career disadvantages of women are integral to how safety is managed.  

Stress, violence, adequate leave entitlements, security, work/life balance, chronic illness – all of these issues are dealt with by good safety professionals.  Perhaps a safety organisation or agency in Australia could take up the theme of “Safe work for women” and look at these issues this year using gender as the key to controlling these hazards in a coordinated and cross-gender fashion.

In support of women’s OHS (if there can be such a specific category), readers are reminded of an excellent (and FREE)  resource written by Melody Kemp called Working for Life: Sourcebook on Occupational Health for Women

Kevin Jones

Domestic violence and workplace stress

Free Access

Today, prominent New Zealand sports broadcaster Tony Veitch has admitted striking a previous girlfriend whose back broke in the incident.  The issue of domestic violence is outside the approach of SafetyAtWorkBlog but Tony Veitch has identified some contributory factors to his actions – workload, stress and medications.

Media coverage of Tony Veitch’s admissions will be dominated by the issues of domestic violence and the money that he paid his girlfriend to keep the matter out of the media.  In this blog’s context, questions should be asked about his employer’s, TVNZ’s, appoach to stress management and excessive working hours, and Tony Veitch’s own decision to accept working conditions that he says contributed to his violent acts.

As with the many politicians who resign due to workload and stress and who develop a sudden desire to “spend more time with the family”, and those CEO’s who take a year off to reestablish a work-life balance after amassing a personal fortune, and the television broadcasters who strike out at girlfriends, the contributions to domestc violence by work environments should be assessed so that other workers do not have to suffer and partners are not assaulted.

A balanced ABC news report on the Tony Veitch’s apology is available HERE.  A New Zealand talkback radio session on the issue is available HERE

Additional information on the issue can be found HERE