Current concern about bullying has led to new laws and prosecutions, and authorities are focusing on the problem. Another area of concern is the safe transport and use of workplace chemicals.
In 2012, WorkSafe Victoria published Workplace Bullying: Prevention and Response, as part of a campaign to highlight the issue of workplace bullying. The publication provides practical guidance for employers and employees in relation to preventing and addressing workplace bullying. Employers and employees have been prosecuted for workplace bullying. For example, the owner of a cafe and a number of employees were successfully prosecuted in 2010 in a case in which a young waitress employed at the cafe committed suicide after she was relentlessly bullied at work.
Since 1 January 2014, victims of workplace bullying have been able to apply to the Commonwealth Fair Work Commission (FWC) for orders to stop bullying. The range of workplaces covered by the Commonwealth law is narrower than the range covered by the Victorian OHSA 2004. The eligibility guidelines are quite technical and the FWC has established a dedicated unit to assist would-be applicants.
In recent years, the general public has been made aware of the extremely dangerous nature of workplace chemicals such as asbestos. In response, governments throughout Australia have introduced laws regulating the handling, use and transport of chemicals to ensure that employees who are required to work with chemicals are:
•informed about the potential risks;
•instructed and trained in the means by which those risks may be removed or reduced; and
•provided with the necessary equipment including personal protective equipment.
The principal Victorian requirements are found in sections 21(2)(b) and 22 of the OHSA 2004.
For further information about the proper transport and use of chemicals, see “Chemicals” in Environmental law.
For information about the law relating to workplace injuries, see Work injuries.