Bullying is defined by the researchers as a situation in which a person feels they have been repeatedly on the receiving end of negative actions from another worker, in an environment where it is difficult to defend themselves. In other words, it must be ongoing and between people with different levels of power within an organisation.
Preliminary findings have confirmed restaurant kitchens are hotbeds of workplace bullying something referred to as the "Gordon Ramsay effect" after the British chef known for his fiery temper.
In the past year the Employment Relations Authority has investigated several cases of workplace bullying, including a university employee who claimed "insidious bullying" by her superior, and a man sacked for abusive and aggressive behaviour towards an employee that included driving a forklift in a manner that threatened his safety.
Claims of bullying and intimidation were also made against members of parliament last year as part of an in-house staff survey by Parliamentary Services.
The research, funded by the Health Research Council and the Department of Labour, aims to show how workplace bullying affects a worker's health, wellbeing and job performance, as well as finding out what is being done at an organisational level to counteract the problem.
O'Driscoll says if there was a more organisational response it wouldn't happen as much. "Many organisations don't quite know how to deal with the problem. Most have a harassment policy and a stress policy but they don't often capture issues of bullying, and that's a problem."