WorkSafe Victoria has launched a new campaign designed to stamp out violence in the workplace, including within the retail industry.

The campaign highlights the need for employers and the community to come together to prevent violence in the workplace, according to WorkSafe Victoria executive director of health and safety, Julie Nielsen (pictured below).

“By illustrating workplace violence and aggression from a worker’s perspective, the campaign aims to remind employers and the community that violence and abuse should never be ‘just part of the job’,” she told Retailbiz.

WorkSafe claims data shows that while only 2.5% of claims relate to violent or aggressive incidents in the workplace, many incidents are unreported. These can range from verbal abuse and yelling, spitting, swearing, demeaning language to gendered violence and physical assault.

“Work related violence is under reported, particularly in occupations where incidents occur on a regular basis. Factors that can deter workers from reporting incidents include workers just wanting to forget an event once it is over, believing that work related violence is ‘just part of the job’, a workplace culture of ‘just getting on with it’, or thinking that nothing will happen if a report is made,” Nielsen said.

“In the 2020 calendar year WorkSafe accepted 69 claims from retail workers involving possible work-related violence, compared to 80 claims in 2019. Just because an act of occupational violence and aggression does not reach the threshold to lodge a worker’s compensation claim does not make it acceptable.”

The new campaign, which appears across major television, radio, online and in print media, builds on the previous Its Never Ok campaign, which focused on workplace violence and aggression towards healthcare workers.

“Research showed that those who had seen the Never Ok campaign were more likely to agree that violence and aggression towards healthcare workers was unacceptable. The campaign received strong recognition, with research showing 74% of the community recognised at least one campaign element,” Nielsen said.

WorkSafe is also running additional education and awareness campaigns with employers to remind them of their obligations to protect workers from violence and aggression in the workplace. This includes targeted inspection programs in high-risk industries and the provision of new guidance for employers.