Survey shows bullying takes the biggest toll at work

NO LONGER is the nine-to-five daily grind taking the biggest toll on Queensland workers' stress levels - it's behind-the-scenes bullying and harassment.

A recent survey by Queensland law firm Trilby Misso found 50% of respondents felt bullying was the biggest concern at their workplace.

Only 29% of respondents cited stress as the biggest problem followed by 21% pointing to health and safety risks.

Trilby Misso principal lawyer Robyn Davies has experienced an alarming increase in the number of workers seeking advice about bullying and workplace harassment.

"Society often associates bullying with schoolchildren but bullying perpetrated by adults in the workplace is now among the most common complaints we receive from people seeking personal injury compensation," Ms Davies said.

Ms Davies, who is currently dealing with eight workplace bullying claims, said the problem was not confined to any age group or industry.

"People suffering from bullying come from a wide range of employment situations," she said.

"They range from young apprentices who suffer cruel teasing and even physical abuse in a workshop to professional people subjected to manipulation and mental cruelty by colleagues or supervisors.

"Some people can face every working day knowing they will be subject to unjustified criticism, a ridiculously heavy workload or marginalisation from co-workers which can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and, unfortunately, sometimes even suicide.

"Workplace bullying often goes unpunished because the victims are too embarrassed to come forward and when they do complain it can be after suffering years of abuse."

The Brisbane-based lawyer acknowledged recent government efforts to address workplace bullying but said the onus came down to employers.

A Federal parliamentary committee conducted a nationwide inquiry into workplace bullying last year and found bullying was happening far too frequently in Australia.

One of the main recommendations was that the Australian Government establish a national advisory service to provide advice, assistance and resolution services.

The Productivity Commission has estimated the practice costs Australia between $6 and $36 billion annually.