Peter Richardson.
Peter Richardson.

Strict workplace health and safety replacing common sense?

I ALMOST choked on my morning coffee when I read a Brisbane newspaper report that  "workers in cushy jobs will be able to claim compo for being left idle under national laws drawn up to combat bullying."

As a member of Nitpickers International, I first gagged on the sloppy syntax. Idleness mandated by law? Bully for the bludgers.

I suspect, though, that the writer meant those workers in cushy jobs would, under national laws being drawn up to combat bullying, be able to claim compo for being left idle.

Surely someone was having us on, I thought - someone,  maybe, who didn't have enough to do, was bored and thought up this little doozy.

But wait, there's more. If that one isn't wacky enough, "eye-rolling responses that might diminish a person's dignity" are also on the no-no list as a form of bullying.

Don't panic though; and preferably, just laugh. Thankfully, this latest nanny-state scenario depends on the adoption of a draft national code prepared by Safe Work Australia.

Hopefully, someone with even a scintilla of common sense will give it the thumbs down.

Over-the-top workplace health and safety structures are now widely seen, and talked about around the barbecue, as having replaced common sense.

Although introduced with the best of intentions, they have reached a point at which we are all deemed to need our hands held throughout our working lives.

To use the current shorthand for philosophical acceptance of circumstance, stuff happens.

Mostly, we have to deal with that stuff as best we can, and in the process, we become more  self-reliant and perhaps a little wiser.

Certainly any civilised society should have in place a workplace safety net for those who are vulnerable and unable to look after themselves, but to put workplace boredom down as a consequence of bullying really stretches credibility and weakens the whole concept.

Now, of course, with texting and cyberspace bullying,  the term covers a much wider field of human nastiness than in my youth.

My primary school playground was no place for sissies. 

Bloody fist fights were common, but things could get rough in the classroom, too.

We just called it teasing then, but it could be and often was cruel, particularly when the class bully managed to gather some acolytes to do the tormenting.

Yes, bullying was an art form, and woe betide anyone who gave the impression of being teacher's pet.

This was dangerous ground, so I opted to keep a low profile both in the classroom and on the playground, but I still have the odd scar after all these years.

Perhaps I should sue, but I suppose I would be beaten by the statute of limitation.

Seriously, though, psychological bullying can be and often is more damaging than the physical kind, as highlighted  by the all too common reports of self-harm and even suicide.

Sadly, the mobile phone and the social media have opened the door to anonymous harassment with poisonous garbage, and this raises the question: Who is monitoring the monitors?


--AND ANOTHER THING by Peter Richardson

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