Bullying On Construction Sites

Bullying On Construction Sites

What is bullying? Are head flushing, name calling antics simply the domain of the playground? Or does the behaviour transfer beyond the school gates and into the workplace?

Sadly, the latter is true, with over 60% of employees experiencing bullying in the workplace at some time in their career.

Bullying is not discriminative, it effects males and females, young and old. It is commonplace in alpha dominated industries, ingrained into company culture. And whilst the problem is evident in most industries, it is specifically prevalent within the construction Industry.

What effect does bullying have?

Suicide. Yes we are starting with the worst case scenario, but ongoing and systematic abuse can, and does cause people to take their own lives. When it comes to workplace suicide, the UK currently takes a blind eye approach. Other countries including America and France are reporting high levels of suicides linked to work related problems, but the UK has chosen not to record statistics, even though depression cause by bullying, is directly linked to suicide.


Other issues include panic attacks, anxiety, a lack of sleep and self esteem issues. Sadly, bullying can quietly facilitate a downward spiral, as the victims’ friendships, work relationships and work ethic is negatively impacted.

What are the different types of bullying?

We already mentioned that bullying shows no mercy and just because you are at the top of your career level, it does not mean you are exempt.  Vertical bullying is when a junior member of the team bullies those in higher positions. Additionally, people placed higher in the employment hierarchy may bully subordinates, whilst co-workers are equally likely to bully others in their team

Oh come on…it’s just banter….

Perhaps this is an excuse which is commonly thrown around the building site. We may have all chuckled when the newbie was sent for a long stand or a tin of stripy paint, but where is the line drawn?

Joshing and jibing at the odd prank might be acceptable but the trend for going too far is all too evident. A few years ago a shocking online video was released of co-workers hitting each other over the head. The laughing in the back ground may suggest this was a joke, but the victim is clearly not amused.

 Watch This Shocking Clip Found Online

Is this Bullying? I think So!

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon situation. Apprentice mechanic George Clarke recently took his own life as a result of ongoing abuse. After locking their apprentice in a cage and setting fire to him, his colleagues showed little remorse whilst attending an inquest into his death, citing their behavior as mere horseplay.

Understanding what actually constitutes bullying is the first step in addressing the problem, so let’s be clear. What exactly is bullying?

Bullying is abusive behaviour towards one or more people and can be carried about by an individual or multiple perpetrators. The characteristics to look out for include.

  1. Threatening, humiliating and intimidating behaviours
  2. Verbal Abuse
  3. Driven by a need to control
  4. Causes problems for the victim
  5. Distracts from business interests

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 Why does the construction industry have such a big Bullying problem?

Bullying on construction sites is no new problem. However our changing social attitudes towards bullying are ensuring it is no longer tolerated.

The specific problem within construction is deep rooted,  the boys will be boys type scenario. Thankfully,  the shift of opinion means that initiating the apprentice construction worker with physical abuse and witty remarks is no longer the norm. The behaviour is outdated.

Do you own a construction company? Are you on top of bullying in the workplace?

Heads up for businesses turning a blind eye to those rowdy chaps on site, it is time for action.

if you are the owner of a construction company, you need to be ensuring you are doing everything possible to prevent the problem of bullying. See the checklist.

  1. Do you have a zero tolerance policy in place?
  2. Are your employees clear on professional conduct?
  3. Do you have procedures in place for reporting bullying?
  4. Are you active in addressing issues of bullying and violence

Are you a construction company worker?

Victims of bullying often get caught in a viscous circle and as a result of their situation, fall silent and don’t speak out about their plight. As an outsider, you can recognise the signs and be instrumental in ensuring this type of behaviour is stamped out. If you are the victim, remember that is your employees responsibility to offer a duty of care.

Check out this helpful checklist below.

  1. Do you know the procedure for reporting bullying?
  2. Is there any chance of resolving this matter in an informal way and without reporting?
  3. Have you spoken to co-workers to ask for assistance in this matter?
  4. If the matter cannot be resolved, follow the correct procedure and report the perpetrator.

If you have been a victim of Bullying and need someone to chat with please contact Bullying UK