Violence, Harassment, and Bullying at Work: How Does the Australian Rail Industry Compare and what Can be Done?

"Frontline employees are becoming scapegoats for late trains, delayed flights, bewildered people, long queues and cuts to services. Staff have been punched, kicked, bitten and spat on by people who are overwrought, strung out on alcohol or drugs, mentally unstable or just plain angry at the world" (Robinson 2004). Violence in the workplace is becoming an increasingly important issue. Violence can take a number of forms including physical, verbal,and nonverbal communication, intimidation and bullying, exclusion, sexual harassment, and stalking. In the rail industry, workers can be exposed to direct attacks, witnessing attacks on passengers, and suicides, in addition to accidents involving coworkers and/or members if the general public. This article draws from the Australian experience to highlight the risks posed to rail workers by workplace violence, harassment, and bullying. It is suggested that further research is required in the rail industry to identify the extent of these issues. Further, it is proposed that violence in railway workplaces needs to be unambiguously recognized as an occupational health and safety issue, rather than being treated as an external (police) responsibility. This article proposes a number of responses to reduce the exposure of rail industry workers to workplace violence. This includes the development of codes of conduct and agreements among employers, employees and their unions, and recognition that cooperation is crucial in developing responses to violence in railway workplaces.


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  • Accession Number: 01004153
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 23 2005 7:45AM