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.


  1. This is great to know – thank you!

    • Sharon S. says:

      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

  2. Jean-Marie Hendricks says:

    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.

    • 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.

      • Starting creating a paper trail…and sue their ass!!!

        • Jean-Marie Hendricks says:

          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!

          • 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.

  3. Jill A. says:

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. Kerry skipper says:

    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?

    • 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.

  6. Carlos Mayo says:

    Is there something i can do if someone used physical force against me while on my first day of work??

    • 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

  7. 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


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