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How to prevent harassment at a work place

This article discusses how to prevent harassment at a work place, and ensuring the management has the correct routine in place.
© University of Bergen/Authors: B.E. Moen, N. Magerøy

A sign saying "Stop sexual harassment" Sexual harassment should not take place at the workplace. © Colourbox

The responsibility of the management

Prevention and handling of harassment cases are the responsibility of the management. Many companies do not have routines on these issues, or if they have, they seldom use them when such a case presents itself.

Companies without such routines are often unable to clear up the matter satisfactorily. This results in a negative outcome both for the company and for the harassed person.

Companies often are unable to clear up the matter in a constructive way and within a reasonable time. This results in a negative outcome both for the company and for the harassed person.

a) Declaration

Each and every company should have a declaration from the top management that underlines the organisation’s commitments to the workers, which clearly states that all employees have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. This information should be easily accessible and every worker should be informed about it.

Repeating information about this issue in staff meetings will help to create a culture of “zero-tolerance” to harassment.

b) Definition

A definition of harassment and examples of both proper and improper conduct should be developed to clarify what the organisation means by the term harassment for all employees.

c) Routines

Each company should have clear routines regarding what to do when harassment situations are observed or experienced. If such situations are handled quickly, they have a better prognosis and can be stopped. If the harassment has been taking place for long periods, even years, the situation can be very difficult to solve.

ILO report

Some years ago, ILO developed a report on sexual harassment at work. It reviewed international standards and national legislation as well as the activities of government, employers and workers organizations, and NGOs; and includes workplace policies and programmes. If you want to read more about this topic, the report is recommended.

If you’d like to learn more about occupational health i developing countries, check out the full online course from The University of Bergen, below.

© University of Bergen/Authors: B.E. Moen, N. Magerøy
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Occupational Health in Developing Countries

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