UnionsWA has today commented on the release by the WA Government of new workplace safety codes providing WA employers and workforce with guidance on how to prevent harassment, violence, including gendered violence and bullying as well as ensuring good psychological health through work.
Owen Whittle, Secretary UnionsWA said:
"Cases of workplace perpetrators assaulting and harassing women highlights the importance of the newly announced safety codes.
“Recent examples of women working in high office for judges and politicians being harassed and assaulted demonstrates this issue can impact any workplace.
“Modernising our codes to include better protection for working people from harassment, violence and bullying will be important for those most at risk, especially women but also young people and those from diverse backgrounds.
“If these codes are practiced, then fewer women and other workers will face violence or assault at work; if they are not followed, we hope that more perpetrators and their workplaces will be held to account.
“Modernising how we protect working people from workplace violence is also important during the pandemic as front-line staff face violence and bullying at the hands of the public in areas such as retail, hospitality and media as well as those in health services.
“However, while violence to some areas of the workforce has increased through the pandemic there has been a been an epidemic of violence in health and education for many years.
“The new approach on workplace behaviours improves how workplaces should approach issues such as sexual harassment, bullying and inappropriate behaviours at work.
"The new Code of Practice focused on psychological health is welcome and important for those who experience work-related stress arising from insecure jobs and high workloads, as well as those who witness traumatic events or are exposed to other people’s traumatic experiences.
“For too long, the impact of work on mental health has been ignored or downplayed in workplace health and safety policy and practice.
“These codes are an important legal mechanism that can be referred to when courts and tribunals judge whether or not workplaces have done all that is reasonable to make these environments as safe and healthy as possible.
“Failure comply with such guidance can have consequences though fines and other liabilities for non-compliant employers.
"These codes build on already significant work done by the State Government to protect workers and introduce stronger Work, Health and Safety Laws."