Chapter 21: Bullying, Aggression and Violence

Chapter 21: Bullying, aggression and violence


This chapter – one of three dedicated to psychosocial hazards – presents key concepts related to workplace bullying, aggression and violence. Since the 1990s, research on these issues has proliferated along with increasing awareness of the extent of the associated health and safety problems and organisational effectiveness detriments. This chapter provides the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professional with information on the potential outcomes of workplace bullying, aggression and violence on individuals and organisations, useful conceptual models, the legislative environment, and risk assessment and control fundamentals. It considers the implications for OHS practice and stresses the importance for generalist OHS professionals to seek specialist advice on matters such as mediation and complaint investigation.

Keywords: bullying, aggression, violence, psychosocial

First year of publication: 2012
Current Version Pending Review: 2012

Chapter 21: Bullying, aggression and violence

Table of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Definitions
2 Historical context
3 Extent of the problem
4 Understanding workplace bullying, aggression and violence
4.1 Potential health and wellbeing outcomes
5.2 Potential organisational outcomes
5.3 Frameworks for workplace bullying, aggression and violence
5 Legislation and standards
6. Hazard identification and risk assessment
6.1 Workplace bullying
6.2 Aggression and violence
7 Risk control methods
8 Implications for OHS practice
8.1 Management systems implications
8.2 HR management implications
8.3 Specialist support
9 Summary
Key authors and thinkers

Kïrsten A Way B.OccThy; B.A (Psych Hons); CPErg;
MAPS. School of Psychology, University of Queensland

Kïrsten Way is an Organisational Psychologist, Occupational Therapist and Certified Professional Ergonomist who specialises in how worker and group-level psychology can affect occupational health and safety. She has been integral in determining and implementing government policy in work-related psychological injury and has over 15 years experience with investigating cases relating to occupational stress, workplace bullying, human factors and ergonomics, both in Australia and overseas. As well as working in private practice, she has held various positions for the OHS regulator in Australia and the UK and is currently conducting research as part of her doctorial studies at the University of Queensland and has published on the role of supervisors in conflict. She has been working collaboratively on research to develop a risk assessment tool for occupational stress and bullying with The University of Queensland and The Australian National University.

Peer reviewer

Dr Carlo Caponecchia BA(Psych); PhD (Psychology)
Lecturer, School of Aviation, University of New South Wales

Learning Outcomes: Psychosocial Hazards: Bullying, Aggression and Violence

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks.

To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.

The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of an OHS professional; it is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth .

Please read the section on using the learning outcomes before delving into the leaning outcomes of the individual chapters.

The numbers against each learning outcome refer to the chapter number of the BOK download page. No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, .13, 14, 15.)

Find Out More About Using the OHS BOK Learning Outcomes

SWA videos: Building a bullying-free workplace


Date: 2017

Instead of managing personalities or interpersonal conflicts, proactively change organisational culture.

AIHS Webinar: Introduction to workplace Bullying Investigation


Date: 2017

This webinar will provide an outline of the steps involved in a procedurally fair workplace bullying investigation