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Agency hit by third 'bullying' probe

NEWS

A THIRD Environment Agency office was this week facing an official probe over its policies for dealing with stressed employees.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has ordered the investigation at the Agency's Kidderminster pollution response and investigation office.

It follows an investigation into bullying at the Agency's Leeds water laboratory (NCE 10 August 2000) and a previous investigation into a complaint made by civil engineer Michael Ryan (NCE 14 October 1999).

The latest probe follows a formal complaint from environmental protection officer Steve Evans, who was sacked by the Agency in February.

Evans worked in a 24 hour pollution response unit. He said he started his job at the Agency in October 1996 feeling 'like a kid in a candy shop' but that 'the job he loved' quickly went sour.

He made a formal complaint against a manager in March 1999, citing 37 incidents of bullying.

After a long absence he returned to the Agency in September 2000 but then had to take more time off, again because of stress. This time he was assessed by an Agency psychologist before his sacking in February.

He is also pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal.

The HSE has passed his case on to an environmental health officer at Wyre Forest District Council.

The Environment Agency was unavailable for comment as NCE went to press.

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