The premier science and technology organisation, the CSIRO, has begun its rollout of bullying and harassment training for its staff after being ordered to do so by the workplace ombudsman.
After being left red-faced following the issue of an ‘improvement notice’ by the federal workplace insurance authority, CSIRO has already put up to 440 public servants through training programs. It has also been charged with developing a “risk management plan” before targeting allegations of misconduct among its staff, Fairfax media reported.
Chief executive Megan Clark assured all employees that the organisation will be compliant with all of the directives listed in Comcare's improvement notice, which was issued in June. The CSIRO Staff Association acknowledged the organisation has a problem with accusations of bullying and harassment, and called for a “zero-tolerance” approach.
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Comcare found that the CSIRO’S responses to allegations of bullying, misconduct, workplace conflict and psychological stress within the organisation had not been good enough. Lawyers representing a group of 12 former and current employers pushed for sweeping workplace reforms in the organisation.
The notice also ordered the organisation to undertake regular hazard and risk assessments for anything that might cause any of its employees work-related stress.
A key directive in the improvement notice is the requirement to assess the risk of psychological injury to workers, taking into account individual circumstances, when preparing to take action under the CSIRO’s misconduct policy.
In an all-staff email obtained by Fairfax, sent on December 10, Dr Clark said the organisation had rolled out a national “e-learning module” that she expected all employees to have completed by the end of the year.
A CSIRO spokesperson said on Wednesday that while most CSIRO workplaces are not without risks – they are generally safe and the working conditions are decent. “However, CSIRO is not perfect, there are trouble spots and plenty of room overall for improvement. Just like physical safety, the staff association expects that CSIRO maintain a zero-tolerance approach to behaviours that pose a risk to psychological health and wellbeing,” the organisation’s spokesperson said in a statement.