REPORTS of bullying at South West mine sites have more than tripled over the last three years, with the increase put down to greater acceptance of workers speaking up.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has introduced a new program that will see them look closely during site visits at mines' preventative systems, policies and procedures.
Collie-based DMP South West mines safety team leader Tony Robertson said the program would provide assistance and information to companies to ensure they fulfilled their duty of care.
"It is emotional bullying. There have been reports of bullying from supervisors and the like, sexual harassment, across the whole range we have seen increases," he said.
"These days people know they shouldn't tolerate it. People aren't scared to say it is bullying. There is more of an acceptance in reporting it now. The awareness has brought it out of the shadows."
Mr Robertson said the department had developed a code of practice that provided a bullying prevention plan and a new anti-bullying checklist for inspector and industry use while onsite.
"We know there is a potential for workers to suffer serious and long term health effects from bullying - something that is completely unacceptable," Mr Robertson said.
"We firmly believe that raising awareness with proactive programs like this is the best way to reduce work related injuries and illnesses."
Mr Robertson said while DMP could provide assistance, it was industry's ultimate responsibility to ensure bullying issues were resolved onsite.
"In saying that though, if companies aren't doing the right thing our inspectors have the power to take enforcement action regarding bullying," he said.
"This can include issuing sites with improvement notices that force companies to demonstrate how they are remedying ineffective anti-bullying or preventative measures onsite."
Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion, who visited DMP's Collie office yesterday, echoed Mr Robertson's sentiments - saying DMP's Southwest safety inspector team had his full support.
"Bullying is just not acceptable in this day and age," Mr Marmion said.
"However, we know it can still occur, so that's why the work of my department's Collie-based inspectors is so crucial."While most companies and workers are doing the right thing, we must stamp out any instances of this behaviour."
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