OSHA Adopts Workplace Anti-Bullying Policy


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has adopted a safety program for its own workers that includes a workplace anti-bully policy.

The policy is contained in a 278-page document, the OSHA Field Health and Safety Manual, which was released on May 23, 2011. The manual outlines safety practices for OSHA’s field offices. It was drafted in cooperation with the National Council of Field Labor Locals, a union that represents OSHA workers.

OSHA’s workplace bullying policy is significant because the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees … .” However, OSHA has not enforced that provision with respect to workplace bullying, despite overwhelming research that workplace bullying may cause severe damages to a target’s mental and physical health.

The stated purpose of the workplace bullying policy, contained in the manual’s “Violence in the Workplace” chapter, is: ”To provide a workplace that is free from violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior.”

The manual defines “intimidating behavior” as:

“Threats or other conduct that in any way create a hostile environment, impair Agency operations, or frighten, alarm or inhibit others. Verbal intimidation may include making false statements that are malicious, disparaging, derogatory, disrespectful, abusive, or rude.”

 And, “workplace violence” is defined as:

“An action, whether verbal, written, or physical aggression, that is intended to control, cause, or is capable of causing injury to oneself or other, emotional harm, or damage to property.”.

 All OSHA employees are required to “treat all other employees, as well as customers, with dignity and respect. Management will provide a working environment as safe as possible by having preventative measures in place and by dealing immediately with threatening or potentially violent situations. No employee will engage in threats, violent outbursts, intimidations, bullying harassment, or other abusive or disruptive behaviors.”

The manual states that the Assistant Regional Administrator/Director for Administrative Programs or equivalent unit will:

1. Disseminate the workplace violence policies and procedures to all employees;

2. Provide annual training on this policy and U.S. Department of Labor workplace violence program for responsible OSHA Manager(s); and

3. Conduct an investigation and complete a Workplace Violence Incident Report for all incidents reported. The report will be submitted to the Regional Administrator within 24 hours of completion.

Congress created the OSHA  to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor.

26 thoughts on “OSHA Adopts Workplace Anti-Bullying Policy”

    1. Just subscribed to this newsletter. This is an epidemic of hate. I quit my last training assignment because of bullying by traffic as a bicyclist on my way to and from work. There is no cure. Sharon

  1. How can they recognize the problem internally; yet ignore and dismiss it externally? If you, as a Government agency, recognize that the problem exists; are you not obligated to acknowledge it’s existence in the general workforce? I mean, this is completely hypocritical no matter how you try to twist it.

    1. I agree. At present, I am dealing with Oregon BOLI and their pat refusal to address the bullying/whistleblower issue as I am not black, female, pregnant, gay, lesbian, or handicapped. I’m just a pale white guy who has dealt with continual and serial harassment and disrespect, psychological intimidation, and gossip. I stood up for myself, and Oregon DMV/ODOT has literally laughed SEIU out of the room, as they don’t believe they have to follow policy. Oh…..and whats even better, they BOLI says since I don’t qualify as “protected class”, I have no recourse but to endure the behavior. According to Oregon OSHA, though, I DO qualify as “protected class”. So, the only way you can get help is to go to OSHA for someone to uphold a state policy that ODOT should be following to begin with. The problem is, no-one really wants to follow their own policies until someone shoves it under their nose with a veiled threat of a lawsuit.

        1. BLYNC, OSHA will do nothing unless you are a protected class; and the same is true for the state. Believe me, I have been down this route and all the lawyers say the same thing: “Bullying is not illegal; sorry I can’t help you.” No one wants to deal with, let alone acknowledge, the enormous elephant in the room – not even OSHA!

          1. Organizations are suffering as well as victims/targets of bullying/mobbing behaviors in the workplace. It’s in the works. They will legalize it one day…just keep that paper trail going. Leaders of organizations are reacting to bullying in the workplace now more then ever because they are receiving poor quality work from workers, losing good workers and having to re-hire and re-train, loss of productivity, and legal costs. I’m in the same boat and am not paying for my medical bills. I look at it like identity theft …before they couldn’t do anything about it, but now that everyone is being affected they have no other choice.

  2. This should fall under work place violence. I have seen managers make people the center of negative attention. This bring mental harm & ruins the character one has. I see the male managers target many women to whom are very hard works and are very intellegent and it seems this manager are very envious & jealous of those people. The bullies never get any work done nor do they know how. Somebody or somehow, someway, someone above the manager should take them down because it is unproductive. It seems the victims become very ill in mind & body. It a very cruel torture to watch some go through this everyday…and they take, and take , and take. You wonder way people get violent cause they human can not take anymore. They become victims of repeated attack. I wish OSHA could really see this for its full impact has on a human being. Always the single mom trying to work and feed her kid, or the women who is a laborer in the maintenance department.

  3. I work for a large healthcare conglomerate and my co worker and self have been targeted by a bully boss. We are both exceptional employees. Co worker filed an EEOC complaint and obtained a “right to sue” letter and HR has now become the bully. Even with written evidence, the lies are INCREDIbLE. Will they fire the bully supervisor and the bully HR rep? That remains to be seen. The bully supervisor’s boss just got the axe so we can only hope justice will prevail. She has already cost the organization thousands in downtime and legal fees. I am looking for another job as this has made me sick in body, heart and soul. Very disappointing. We are both older and very capable workers in business development who have created millions for this company. Sad not to be valued.

  4. My wife just started a temp to hire position with an investment firm. From day one she has been telling me about the big boss in the off e being well just a rude, obnoxious, browbeating , humiliating bully who likes to scold people in front of the entire office. I’m upset I cant protect my wife like a husband should she has to ride out the temp contract to the end to avoid penalties. Sad to see my wife cry about her day. Anybody have any advice?

    1. Under U.S. law, a worker has no right to be treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. For most workers, that means they can put up with abusive treatment (which could affect their mental and physical health), tell the bully to knock it off and see if that works, file a formal complaint with HR or leave.

      1. first you stated, “Under U.S. law, a worker has no right to be treated with respect” but than you stated, tell the bully to knock it off and see if that works, file a formal complaint with HR or leave.
        Make up you mind sire….

        1. I don’t see any contradiction. There is no protection under federal or state law for harassment of non-protected group members (i.e. race, sex, age, disability, color, national origin). In most states, any worker without a contract or union protection can be fired for any reason, except an illegal one (i.e. discrimination or, in some cases, whistle-blowing).Smart employers, however, have adopted general anti-harassment policies, which offer as much protection as the company chooses to provide.I also encourage workers to complain to OSHA, which is failing in its duty to protect American workers who don’t happen to work for OSHA from serious health and safety risks that arise from workplace bullying and abuse.

    1. I suggest you get my book, Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees and Psychopaths in the Workplace. It is hard to imagine a scenario where it would ever be proper to use physical force against a worker

  5. I was wondering if It is possible to report harrassment, bullying, hostile work environment, intimidation, retaliation, “ganging up”, threatning, constant write up, false accusations, cover up, favortism, extreme over work load , ” interrupted and timed bathroom break”, the no where to turn for help HR dept”, and the ” push him til he hs a nervous breakdown plan” and please help me i cant take the abuse not one more day” clause

  6. It seems the workers of this country have no recourse against being bullied. OSHA, HR and the employers don’t give a damn…… We have no choice but to quit our jobs or be fired for fighting back – the abuse is worst being beaten by your husband.

    Thanks for not helping

  7. I have a friend that is being harassed at work,and the situation has been taken to all supervisors including HR multiple times and nothing has been done. Now the problem has really gotten out of control…

  8. I have been reading all of these statements and concerns people have when it comes to holding down a job in order to survive, raise a family and live your life in a safe and relaxed manner. It is sad that with all the emotions stated here, NO ONE CARES of how they feel, as to but not limited too being hired on a new job. These people come with an open mind and do their very best to appease the foreman, boss, head cheese or what ever title given so not only can the work get done efficiently but as well correctly and with the feeling they did their part.
    The sad thing most upsetting to me is the statement made ” there is NO U.S or FEDERAL LAWS against employment bullying, however…. it only applies to schools etc, like any achievement set out to be a goal whether its school or a job, Bullying, Harassment, Intimidation, Slander and the list goes on is a Huge problem that none of these law makers wishes to deal with because it isn’t in their lives its not affecting them or their families, they just simply figure a couple of shots will make it all go away and wait for the next day to start over.. The very point I’m making here is YES IT DOES MATTER, it matters very much and what hurts the employee also hurts the employer eventually hurting the company because word does travel as warning to any one out there not wanting to have to deal with self righteous tactics. YES the Government , the self made man power that created these groups of Congressman, Lawmakers, Judges, Courts, Officers should all bare in mind, how would they feel if the places were switched?. No One should have to humble themselves that low to keep a job. Something should be done about it, if WE as while collar, blue collar or what ever collar is expected to appease a customer who dont care that the employee who went out of their way to make sure their product was delivered or made safely can appreciate the effort made, then dont give them that smile… I work as an OTR driver and believe me those companies will mess with you cause the power goes to their heads while the logic left long time ago and it very disappointing to see that kind of behavior done to any one on any job for any reason period!
    Thank you!

  9. Iv been yelled at for two years at the work place. My boss makes me feel like I’m worthless at work. He says rude words to me thinking its funny cause that who he is. I’m scared to answer because I don’t want to get yelled at. If something breaks at work. He comes in and says why are you fucking my machines up joking. Iv told manger about it and nothing gets done about it. Iv had a nervous breakdown on Monday threatened to hurt myself and others because of him. Iv only eaten once yesterday because I’m stressed out.

  10. I have been bullied for 6 months now as a new employee. My situation fits the definition of bullying according to everything I have read. My supervisors are aware; they have been given examples. Their response is to make excuses for this person as being “rough around the edges”, and that it is perhaps a cultural difference between us. Lying right in front of me about Clinical mistakes I supposedly made- in front of others-that either were not me or were not true, hiding my phone, giving me wrong information during training…..it goes on and on. This one person has made me not want to wake up in the morning.

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