Aggression in the workplace - What is the law

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Duty holders and legislation that relate to aggression in the workplace 

The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and regulations place certain duties on employers, employees, self-employed people, manufacturers, designers, importers and suppliers and must be complied with.

Duties include:

  • Not exposing workers to hazards 
  • Providing information, instruction and training 
  • Conducting risk assessments 
  • Investigating hazards or injuries that have been reported to employers by employees 
  • Notifying WorkSafe of reportable injuries 
  • Providing safe workplaces 

Do not expose workers to hazards

Aggression in the workplace hazards or risk factors should be controlled so far as is practicable so that workers are not exposed to hazards. There are general duties and responsibilities placed upon employers, workers and contractors under WA legislation. Refer to Sections 19, 20 and 23D, 23E, 23F of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Provide information, instruction and training

Employers are required to provide information (e.g. emergency response procedure), instruction, training (e.g. diffusing customer aggression and conflict) and supervision to their employees so that they are not exposed to psychological risk factors that may lead to work-related stress. Refer to Section 19(1)(b) Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Conduct risk assessments  

The three-step risk management process of hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control should be applied to aggression in the workplace risk factors. Refer to Regulation 3.1 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.

Investigate hazards or injuries that have been reported to employers by employees

Injuries and hazards that have been reported in relation to aggression in the workplace risk factors should be investigated. The Act requires employers to investigate matters reported to them by employees, determine the action to be taken (if any), and notify the employee who made the report of the action to be taken. Refer to Section 23K of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

Notify WorkSafe of reportable injuries

Certain injuries and illnesses should be reported to WorkSafe, including injuries that are likely to prevent the employee from being able to work within 10 days of the injury and certain types of fractures. Refer to Section 23I of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 and Regulation 2.4 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.

Provide safe workplaces 

Those that have control of workplaces have a duty to take measures so far as is practicable so that people (including non-employees) are not exposed to hazards when they enter, exit or are in that workplace. Refer to Section 22 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984.

The code of practice for aggression in the workplace 

Codes of practice apply to all workplaces in Western Australia covered by the OSH Act. The code provides practical guidelines on acceptable ways of achieving compliance with Act and regulations.

The Code of practice: Violence, aggression and bullying at work provides general guidance for employers and workers on the identification, assessment and control of risks associated with aggression in the workplace.

Toolkits and Information Resources page contains tailored information for employers and employees. 

 

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