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Violence at work on the rise: ILO

June 14, 2006 18:04 IST
Violence at work, ranging from threats by psychologically unstable co-workers, sexual harassment, bullying to homicide is increasing worldwide and has reached epidemic levels in some countries, says a new publication of the International Labour Organisation.

Even worse is that the global cost of such violence is enormous and runs into untold millions of dollars, it said.

Even professions once regarded as insulated from workplace violence such as teaching, social services, library services and healthcare are being exposed to increasing acts of violence, in both developed and developing countries.

The findings are based on a new study -- Violence at work, Third Edition co-authored by Vittorio Di Martino, an international expert on stress and workplace violence and Duncan Chappell, past president of the New South Wales Mental Health Review, Australia, and the Commonwealth Arbitral Tribunal, UK.

"Bullying, harassment, mobbing and allied behaviours can be just as damaging as outright physical violence," the authors say, adding: "Today, the instability of many types of jobs places huge pressures on workplaces, and we are seeing more of these forms of violence".

The authors have addressed growing concerns about terrorism, calling it "one of the new faces of workplace violence, contributing to the already-volatile mix of aggressive acts taking place on the job."

A 2000 survey of then 15 member states of the European Union showed that bullying, harassment an intimidation were widespread in the region.

As part of strategies to tackle workplace violence, many countries like Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Poland and Sweden have adopted new legislation or amended existing laws and regulations.

The ILO has adopted a number of fundamental conventions on worker protection and dignity at work. Besides, it has developed framework guidelines to combat workplace violence in the health sector.

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