Workplace violence and harassment on the increase in Europe

Violence, bullying and harassment are becoming increasingly common features of
European workplaces, according to a new report by the European Agency for
Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Yet the response from organisations and
national governments is widely felt to be inadequate.

Third party violence and harassment affect from 5% to 20% of European workers,
depending on the country, sector, and methodology employed. The report
'Workplace Violence and Harassment: a European Picture' includes international
statistics collected by the European Risk Observatory, part of EU-OSHA. Its
recent pan-European workplace survey ESENER shows that 40% of European managers
are concerned by workplace violence and harassment, but only around 25% have
implemented procedures to deal with it - in many EU countries not more than
10%. The problem is even more acute in health and social work and in education
with more than 50% of managers identifying it as a health and safety problem.

"Both violence and harassment represent serious but under-reported threats to
the safety and wellbeing of workers in Europe", says Agency Director Jukka
Takala. "Violence, verbal aggression or threats that employees experience with
customers or patients are critical health and safety issues. And the
psychological consequences are sometimes more dangerous than physical wounds.
Workplace harassment can lead to stress, long-term sick leave, and even
suicide. Economic consequences are reduced productivity, increased sickness
absence, higher turnover of staff and premature retirement due to disability at
often early ages."

The report also reveals that in many European countries there is still not
enough recognition of workplace violence, with few specific initiatives dealing
with the issue. At national level and among individual organisations there is a
need to raise awareness, and put in place policies and procedures to tackle and
prevent violence and harassment at work.

EU-OSHA brought together policy makers, researchers and employers' and
employees' representatives in a two-day seminar to discuss the challenges in
tackling workplace violence effectively, and to identify new and concrete ways
to protect workers' health and wellbeing, tailored to specific needs in
countries and organisations.

More information - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work