Aggression in the workplace - Roles and responsibilities

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 places a duty of care on employers and employees.  This page explains these requirements and provides key messages for employers, employees, OSH professionals and safety and health representatives to assist in preventing and managing aggression in the workplace. 

 

Key messages for employers

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (OSH Act) places a duty of care on employers and persons in control of workplaces to provide safe and healthy workplaces so employees and others at the workplace are not exposed to hazards. This includes consulting and cooperating with safety and health representatives and employees about safety and health in the workplace.

It is important for employers to encourage a culture of reporting incidents and hazards in the workplace. This enables the employers to conduct a more accurate risk assessment of the potential hazards and practicable risk controls. To address under-reporting and encourage future reporting of aggressive incidents, employers may consider developing and implementing a Statement of Intent which states management’s commitment to addressing aggression in the workplace and encourages reporting of workplace aggression incidents. Conducting an anonymous employee survey which asks specific questions on the number of aggressive incidents, frequency of aggressive incidents and the health consequences of these incidents (i.e. physical injury such as minor bruising, abrasions or scratches to skin to psychological injury such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) may also assist your workplace in obtaining an accurate assessment on the occurrence of aggression in the workplace and the health consequences.

Key messages for employees

Section 20 of the OSH Act states employees have a responsibility to ensure they take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and not adversely affect the health and safety of others in the workplace through any act or omission at work. This includes:

  • The employee, as reasonably able to, complying with instructions from the employer for the safety and health of the employee and for the safety and health of other persons.  For example, employees following their workplace’s emergency evacuation procedures.  
  • Using personal protective equipment and clothing which has been provided by the employer and the employee has been properly instructed how to use it. For example, wearing a personal duress alarm provided by the employer, in which the employee has received instruction on its use and operation. 
  • Reporting any situation in the workplace that the employee has reason to believe could constitute a hazard to any person that the employee cannot correct. For example, reporting any incidents of aggression in the workplace that may not necessarily result in an injury or harm to health. 
  • Reporting any injury or harm to health which he or she is aware of, or in connection with his or her work. For example, an education assistant reporting a bruise or scratch sustained from a year one student. 

Key messages for OSH professionals and safety and health representatives

OSH professionals and safety and health representatives play a key role in preventing and managing aggression in the workplace. It is important for OSH professionals, safety and health representatives and employers to work together to prevent and manage aggression in the workplace. OSH professionals and safety and health representatives may assist the employer through conducting regular workplace hazard inspections and assisting with the OSH incident investigations. OSH professionals and safety and health representatives can recommend to the employer the establishment, maintenance, and monitoring of programmes, measures and procedures at the workplace. For example a recommendation may include conducting an anonymous survey to obtain information on the frequency and severity of aggression incidents in the workplace. 

Share this page:

Last modified: