RICHMOND, B.C. – WorkSafeBC says preventing workplace bullying and harassment is a priority for them this year after responding to 931 complaints and 3,400 enquiries on the topic in 2021.

The organization says of these enquiries, 17 per cent came from the health care sector, 10 per cent from hospitality, 8 per cent from construction, and 8 per cent from the retail industry.

“Workplace bullying and harassment can have far-reaching impacts on a worker’s psychological health and safety — it can lead to anxiety, depression, absenteeism, and lower productivity,” said Al Johnson, Head of Prevention Services with WorkSafeBC.

“No one should be subject to bullying and harassment at work.”

The organization adds that the psychological impact of bullying and harassment can also cause distraction and poor judgement, which increases the risk of other workplace injuries.

As part of its 2022 initiatives, WorkSafeBC says it will be focusing resources on conducting education, consultation, and enforcement activities around workplace bullying, harassment, and prohibited action.

The Bullying, Harassment and Prohibited Action Initiative will address all industries, but there will be a stronger focus on small businesses, which may have more limited resources, vulnerable industry sectors, such as those with young workers or high job insecurity, and industries with a large number of complaints submitted to WorkSafeBC.

As part of the initiative, the organization says its focus in 2022 will be

“The goal of our initiative is simple — we want to ensure that employers meet their obligations to keep workers healthy and safe and free from bullying and harassment in the workplace,” said Johnson.

“We are also focused on providing employers and workers with information on how to appropriately respond to harassment in the workplace,” says Johnson.

The organization says bullying and harassment in the workplace can take many forms, including verbal aggression, personal attacks, and other intimidating or humiliating behaviours.

Bullying and harassment can occur between workers and between workers and management. Still, bullying and harassment of workers can also occur by customers, clients, and other members of the public, the organization said in a release.