WorkSafe is stepping-up its campaign to stamp out workplace bullying with the release of figures showing that reports of workplace bullying are rising in Victoria.
Speaking at the launch of a new WorkSafe program to fund anti-bullying public forums across the state over the next six months, the Minister for WorkCover, John Lenders, said the forums would be held at Wangaratta, Shepparton, Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Ballarat, Horsham, Warracknabeal, Traralgon, and Swan Hill.
"The personal and financial cost of bullying to the community is enormous and growing," Mr Lenders said.
"WorkSafe research shows that although the most workplaces have anti-bullying policies at least 15% of the workforce has been subjected to some form of bullying last year - up from 14% the previous year.
"Since July 2000, when it first became possible to make a WorkCover claims for harassment, the number of claims have steadily increased.
"The cost of these claims indicate the full extent of bullying on employees health - the average cost for a stress claim is $41,186 compared to $23,441 for a physical injury claim.
"The full cost in lost productivity and absenteeism resulting from workplace bullying and violence is difficult to quantify, but some national estimates have put it at between $6-billion and $13 billion each year."
Mr Lenders said the new OHS Act that came into effect in July 1 provides a stronger obligation on employees to ensure that they identify and address workplaces hazards that impacts on the psychological health of employees.