Our key takeaway: More than one in five people have experienced violence and harassment (V&H) in the workplace at one point in their career according to the ILO. This is likely to be exacerbated by the changing landscape of work, such as precarious employment arrangements, poor work-life balance, intensification of work, a demographic shift in the workforce and digital surveillance by employers. The ILO has identified an important opportunity to leverage occupational safety and health (OSH)—a widely accepted and well-internalised framework in most industries and companies—to address the widespread issue of V&H in the workplace. Tools that strengthen worker voice, like collective bargaining agreements, can be used to enmesh preventative measures rather than reactive approaches to V&H, embed expectations for mutual respect among workers and employers and create mechanisms that hold both individual perpetrators and entire organisations accountable to address impacts. For their part, employers can learn from their current OSH strategies to put in place policies and protocols that aim to prevent V&H, conduct risk assessments and root cause analyses, establish strong reporting mechanisms, conduct intensive training and empower workers to report incidents.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) released Preventing and Addressing Violence and Harassment in the World of Work through Occupational Safety and Health Measures (January 2024):