Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workplace harassment means that an employee has made a vexatious comment or behaved in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be undesirable. This toolkit is designed to help industry employers develop their company-specific violence and harassment prevention programs. Violence in the workplace occurs when an employee is the victim of physical violence in the workplace that causes or is likely to cause bodily injury. Violence could also include an attempt to engage in such violence, or a statement or behaviour that could reasonably be construed as a threat to use such violence. Violence prevention programmes are needed in many countries. A program is an ideal way to prevent workplace violence because it requires a highly structured and thoughtful approach to identifying hazards and reducing risks to your business and each employee. Find out if you have a violence prevention program in your workplace and what you should do – if not, encourage your employer to develop one. To protect an employee from workplace harassment, an employer must ensure that: rumours, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, quarrels, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, stampede, theft, physical assault, psychological trauma, angry incidents, rape, arson and murder are examples of workplace violence. Employers are required to develop policies on violence and harassment in the workplace.
Employers should also review these policies as often as necessary to ensure their continued effectiveness. The minimum frequency required for policy review is annual. Workers have the right to refuse to work if they have reason to believe that they are at risk of violence in the workplace. For some workers who protect public safety, this right is restricted. The OHSA does not require the employer to assess the risk of workplace harassment and does not allow employees to refuse to work solely on the basis of workplace harassment. Ontario requires all employers to provide all employees (including new employees) with appropriate training and instruction on workplace harassment, including sexual harassment. Ontario provincial authorities recommend that employers provide regular training and retraining as needed, such as annually, following an incident or policy change, or when an employee hires, promotes or changes roles. Employers must develop a workplace violence policy and develop and maintain a program to implement the policy.
Employers must provide employees with information and instruction on the content of these policies and programs. The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines workplace violence as: This Act requires the employer to provide employees with adequate information and guidance on policies and programs to address violence, harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. In particular, on-the-job or sexual harassment training should include how to report an incident, even if the supervisor is the alleged harasser. In addition, training should include information on how reporting sexual harassment remains confidential (unless disclosure is required as part of the investigation or otherwise required by law) and the corrective actions to be taken from that investigation. The provincial authorities also recommend general human rights training on laws against discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment; personal and organizational responsibility; examples of prohibited conduct; and the employer`s policies and procedures on human rights in the workplace, anti-discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. Employers who know, or ought reasonably to know, that domestic violence may occur in the work place must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker at risk of physical injury. Employers and supervisors must inform an employee of the risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour if the employee can expect to meet that person while working and if the employee is at risk of physical injury. Personal data may be disclosed, but only as reasonably necessary to protect the employee from personal injury. In emergency situations, always contact the police first if there are threats or actual violence in the workplace. Every employer is now required to assess the risks of violence in the workplace. This violence can result from a number of predisposing factors such as type of employment, type of work and working conditions. In addition, the employer must reassess risks as often as necessary to ensure that related policies and programs continue to be adequate to protect workers from workplace violence.
• measures and procedures for employees to report incidents of violence and harassment in the workplace to the employer; This toolkit provides general information on workplace violence and harassment laws, as well as policies, sample policies and checklists that can be used to develop a company-specific policy and program on violence and harassment.