Last week several Australian news sites reported on a new thesis about public servants and cyber-bullying which is discussed in detail below. The reports are based mostly on a media release about the research issued by Queensland University of Technology (QUT). What caught my eye was the statement in the one media report that the researcher, Dr Felicity Lawrence,
“…said traditional workplace bullying already cost the nation about $36 billion a year, “so the cost of cyber bullying on productivity could be profound”.
Not true. In the QUT statement, Lawrence stated
“Traditional workplace bullying costs the national economy up to $36 billion each year, so the cost of cyberbullying on productivity could be profound,…”
“up to” vs “about? This differentiation is important because the lack of clarity creates OHS myths and these myths can misinform policy priorities and public understanding of workplace hazards.
In January 2015, this blog said of Australia’s Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption (TURC):
“Workplace safety has not been the focus of this Royal Commission but it is one of its victims”.
The Royal Commission’s final report was released on 30 December 2015, and it is time to look at the mentions of occupational health and safety (OHS), at least in Volume 1, and see how processes, decisions and reporting in the safety sector may change.
Australia’s latest Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has a strong background in technology investment and is urging the country to embrace innovation. This has generated a focus on information technology start-ups but it may also create opportunities for occupational health and safety (OHS) professionals, if they are willing to change.
There has been a quick growth in
Australia’s Productivity Commission (PC) has released its final report into the Workplace Relations Framework. Almost all media discussion has been about potential changes to penalty rates but, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, workplace bullying is part of the inquiry’s terms of reference, submissions were sought on this and the final report identifies one view on the current state of play.
The Australian newspaper has summarised the report as rubbish while The Age has described it as a “fair assessment“. These polarised interpretations say more about mainstream media ideologies than they do about the report, but they reflect the dichotomy between unions and business and the Left and the Right, and need to be remembered when reading their articles about occupational health and safety (OHS).
Volume 2 of the PC’s report includes a chapter (19) specifically addressing workplace bullying but the issue crops up throughout Volume 1 to illustrate the Fair Work Commission’s operations, where bullying fits in the workplace relations framework and even as bullying relates to breastfeeding.