Bill 168 – Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009

Bill 168 - Occupational Health and Safety I want you to be aware of this rather far-reaching new piece of legislation which is an amendment to the Occupational Health & Safety Amendment Act.

In essence, the revision introduces a concept of “workplace harassment” which is defined as being a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

In short, it really means that if a worker feels uncomfortable or feels harassed or feels that something has been said or done that is “unwelcome”, the employee has a claim and the claim has rather draconian consequences.

Let’s cut to the quick: the penalties are severe. Anyone (that means individuals in authority positions) who fails to comply with the provisions of Bill 168 can be personally fined up to $25,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment or both and any corporation convicted of an offence can be fined up to $500,000.

This is serious stuff.

What do you do?

The first step to comply with Bill 168 is to complete a risk assessment of the operations within your workforce. That is mandatory and you must have posted written policies in conspicuous places and programs and mandatory workplace violence procedures to address workplace harassment. There must be a workplace policy relating to workplace violence and harassment and you must provide a written copy of the harassment policy to a workplace health & safety committee or a health & safety representative that you must appoint in your business.

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