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Constantly criticised, nit-picked, overruled, frozen out, ignored, never valued? Read this

Bullying and health and safety at work

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Health and safety at work | Personal safety

Health and safety at work

Under the UK Health And Safety At Work Act 1974 (HASAWA), employers have a non-derogatable obligation to provide both a safe place of work and, as far as is reasonably practical, a safe system of work. The most common threat to employee safety these days is not from accident or physical violence, but from psychological violence. Stress (that's negative stress, not positive stress) is one consequence of psychological violence. Where risk of injury to health - from whatever cause - is high, employers are also required to carry out a risk assessment.

We can all recognize physical violence and its effects - bruises, broken bones, blood, etc - but we are less able to recognize psychological violence, or bullying, which consists of constant trivial nit-picking criticism combined with refusal to value, undermining, overruling, sidelining, ignoring, isolation, exclusion, twisting and distorting everything you say and do, humiliation, coercion, implied threat or real threat (especially to job security), having your work and the credit for it stolen, imposition of verbal and written warnings for specious reasons. To see more bullying behaviours, click here.

A number of high-profile cases have recently underlined society's changing attitude towards stress. Stress is coming to be seen not as the employee's inability to cope with excessive workloads or the bullying behaviours of co-workers and managers, but as a consequence of the employer's failure to provide a safe system of work as required by the UK Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

In over 90% of the 3400+ cases reported to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line, the cause of stress is the behaviour of one individual - male or female - who I define as a serial bully, a compulsive liar with a Jekyll & Hyde nature who uses mimicry and charm to appear plausible. Emotionally cold and emotionally flat, joyless, humourless and  untrustworthy, the serial bully denies everything, always blames others, and has a compulsive need to control everything and everyone around them. I estimate one person in thirty in society is a serial bully. Everybody knows at least one serial bully - click here for a more detailed profile and see who this reminds you of.

Bully OnLine is a gold mine of insight and information on psychological violence and identifies bullying as the the main threat to safety of employees at work. Have a look through this web site to recognise the bullies in your life ... start with Am I being bullied? then move on to What is bullying? To find out what you can do about bullying, click Action to tackle bullying. Remember to look at the profile of the serial bully which is common to harassers, racists, stalkers, rapists, violent partners, abusers, etc.

If bullying has resulted in injury to health, commonly called "stress", see the page on injury to health and the one on the psychiatric injury of trauma, a collection of symptoms congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Derogatable means an obligation which cannot be passed on - the employer is legally obliged to fulfil the duty themselves.
Specious means "plausibly deceptive".

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