The Department of Mines and Petroleum have seen bullying reports triple in Western Australia’s south west mines over the last two years, compared to the previous three years.
The department has launched an awareness program targeting the area’s 60 medium and large sized mines to crack down on bullying.
Under the program DMP will scrutinise preventative measures, policies and procedures when it visits mine sites.
The department’s Collie South West mines safety team leader Tony Robertson said the program would offer information to companies so they can carry out their duty of care, the Collie Mail reported.
“It is emotional bullying. There have been reports of bullying from supervisors and the like, sexual harassment, across the whole range we have seen increases,” he said.
“These days people know they shouldn’t tolerate it. People aren’t scared to say it is bullying. There is more of an acceptance in reporting it now. The awareness has brought it out of the shadows.”
Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion threw his support behind the safety inspector team.
“Bullying is just not acceptable in this day and age,” he said.
“However we know it can still occur, so that’s why the work of my department’s Collie-based inspectors is so crucial.
“While most companies and workers are doing the right thing, we must stamp out any instances of this behaviour.”
A registered nurse employed as a BHP mine labourer complained about the working conditions on the mine earlier this year, saying he was bullied by his supervisor and ordered off site for asking for water and a hat.
The department said it has designed a code of practice with a bullying prevention strategy as well as an anti-bullying checklist for inspectors and industry on site.
“We know there is a potential for workers to suffer serious and long term health effects from bullying – something that is completely unacceptable,” Robertson said.
“We firmly believe that raising awareness with proactive programs like this is the best way to reduce work related injuries and illnesses.”
He added, however, that the department can only do so much. He said the industry has to take responsibility to curb bullying and resolve bullying problems on site.
“In saying that though, if companies aren’t doing the right thing our inspectors have the power to take enforcement action regarding bullying,” he said.
“This can include issuing sites with improvement notices that force companies to demonstrate how they are remedying ineffective anti-bullying or preventative measures onsite.”
An employee of Rio Tinto subsidiary Coal & Allied was dismissed from the company for intimidating a worker for not joining the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union last year.
Court documents showed Alan King harassed the worker for not joining the union.
Two miners were dismissed from a coal mine in the Hunter Valley after being accused of bullying a colleague. The bullying included drawing genitals on the colleague’s personal safety equipment.