Bullying punished

According to WorkSafe a Geelong builder who repeatedly bullied his teenage apprentice over a two-year period was last week convicted and fined $12,500 in the Geelong Magistrates’ Court. the builder pleaded guilty to one rolled-up charge under the 2004 OHS Act of failing to provide a safe system of work and the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to employees in relation to workplace bullying.

He was also ordered to pay costs of $757.71. The court heard that the builder ran a small carpentry business, which employed two apprentice carpenters and two subcontractors. The victim began working for the business in 2013 as a 16-year-old. Until he left in April, 2015, he suffered incidents of verbal, physical and psychological bullying and harassment. The court heard that during that period the builder himself not only encouraged employees to participate in bullying behaviour against the teenager, but actively participated.

WorkSafe’s Executive Director of Health and Safety, Marnie Williams, said the man's behaviour had been appalling.

“Not only did he use his position of power to encourage a bullying culture among his workers, he actively participated,” Ms Williams said.

“No employee should have to suffer such cruel, vicious and repeated behaviour at work, particularly a young man just starting his working life.

“Because of their inexperience, young workers are particularly vulnerable to psychological and physical risks in the workplace, which is why supervisors and employers must take a real interest in their health and safety.”

Ms Williams said that as an employer, as well as a manager and supervisor, he had a legal obligation to proactively recognise and stop workplace bullying.

“Today’s conviction will be a permanent reminder to him, and the community in which he works, that he failed completely.”

For more information on what duties employers have in regards to bullying in the workplace contact Bass Coast OHS Consulting

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