IOSH Takes on Harassment Agenda with New Workplace Toolkit

IOSH Takes on Harassment Agenda with New Workplace Toolkit


  • Date: Thursday 8th February 2018
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IOSH has published new guidance, case studies and a toolkit to help organisations tackle ill-treatment in the workplace, including bullying, harassment, disrespect and “unreasonable management”. 

This follows two pieces of research undertaken by the institute on the prevalence of ill-treatment at work, citing evidence that improving the quality of working life can have a measurable impact on productivity.

Last month, IOSH published the Irish Workplace Behaviour Study, which found that 43% of 1500 respondents had experienced ill-treatment, including unreasonable management, incivility or disrespect and violence and aggression. Nearly half (47%) said they had witnessed it, and 17% said they had perpetrated it. The survey also found that:

  • 37% of respondents reported having experienced unreasonable management; 31% had experienced incivility or disrespect; and 3% had experienced physical violence;
  • Public sector employees were five times more likely to experience violence than employees in other sectors;
  • Women were significantly more likely to experience ill-treatment on two or more occasions per day, with the perpetrator often being another woman; and
  • There is a correlation between ethnicity and ill treatment: workers of black, mixed or Asian ethnicity had the highest levels of experiencing and/or witnessing violence; Asian workers were seven times more likely to experience violence at work than white workers; ill-treatment of black and Asian workers was usually perpetrated by individuals of the same ethnicity.

All of the organisations participating in the research had policies and procedures to manage ill treatment. However, the research found that middle managers did not always effectively implement these, due to reluctance to manage complaints and an unwillingness to have difficult conversations with workers.

IOSH has now published an ill treatment checklist tool, adapted from the methodology used by the survey research team. It suggests that individuals, submitting their responses anonymously, work through a “scoring sheet” for examples of unreasonable management, incivility and violence, so that scores can be added and averaged to identify key concerns. Scores can be recorded for experiencing, observing and perpetrating behaviours. There are also additional suggested questions on gender, ethnicity, age, religion and sexuality. 

IOSH also recommends implementing clear and effective policies on ill-treatment to include educating management and workers about ill-treatment, and how it will be dealt with; confidential reporting procedures; and management of cases by someone who is not a stakeholder in the outcome.

IOSH Vice President Louise Hosking said: “It is alarming to see the amount of people who felt there was nothing to be done, even if they reported an issue. Everyone has the right to be respected at work. Any form of ill-treatment is completely unacceptable.

It can have a huge impact on an individual and the team around them, causing stress and tension which ultimately has an effect on the business as a whole. Ill-treatment at work is linked to physical and mental health issues, which in turn affect the decisions people make and increases risks to themselves and those around them.”

Source: Health and Safety at Work


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