EDITORIAL: Bully tells us how to behave

WorkSafe B.C. should stick to what it does best, not mandate anti-bullying policies

Attention employers, you have less than a month to establish policies around bullying and harassment, or face the wrath of WorkSafe B.C.

If you noticed the irony in that statement, good, because it’s just so ironic that one of the biggest bullies in the province is going to dictate anti-bullying policy to the rest of us.

On Oct. 1 WorkSafe announced policy changes  on bullying and harassment. It defines bullying and harassment as any action which:

a. includes any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but

b. excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.

Most of us understand that WorkSafe is trying to educate the working public that bullying and harassment are unacceptable. Most of us take that as a given and work in an environment where people behave with courtesy and professionalism towards others. Others aren’t so fortunate, but we wouldn’t be relying on WorkSafe B.C. to “save the day” if you’re working in a bad place.

WorkSafe does not plan an “enforcement blitz.” Rather, the provincial body will respond to enquiries and complaints – but not all – and will rely on inspectors to ferret out workplace bullies. As well, a victim first needs to file an in-house report before any action, if any, is taken by WorkSafe. We wonder how that will go over when you hand the complaint to the supervisor who’s named in the same report?

The other difficulty we have in WorkSafe overseeing this is its own track record. We’ve read far too many stories about injured workers who feel “bullied” by WorkSafe in regard to how they’re treated by case workers, the massive amount of paperwork they’re expected to complete when they’re not well, or even WorkSafe’s overruling of family doctors’ advice for their own patients.

We would rather have WorkSafe inspectors looking for unsafe practices that can result in real physical harm to employees. This is a tangible goal and that’s what they do best.

– Campbell River Mirror