Violence harassment prevention in the workplace
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Violence & Harassment Prevention in the Workplace. Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services Security and Parking Services. Agenda. Violence in the Workplace Definition: Workplace Violence Legislation/Standards Prevalence Consequences of Workplace Violence

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Violence & Harassment Prevention in the Workplace

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Violence & Harassment Prevention in the Workplace

Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services

Security and Parking Services


Violence in the Workplace

  • Definition: Workplace Violence

  • Legislation/Standards

  • Prevalence

  • Consequences of Workplace Violence

  • Risk Factors for Workplace Violence

  • Types of Violence

  • McMaster University’s Policy and Program

    Harassment in the Workplace

  • Definition: Workplace Harassment

  • Legislation/Standards

  • Consequences of Workplace Harassment

  • McMaster University’s Policy and Program

  • Video: “Harassment: Keeping it out of the Workplace”

  • Think You’re a Victim?

  • Scenario


Bill 168: Amendment to the Occupational Health & Safety Act

  • The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) now includes definitions of workplace violence and harassment.

  • Requirements of Bill 168:

  • Prepare a policy and program for violence and harassment prevention in the workplace to include risk assessments, controls, emergency response, and reporting and investigation.

Violence in the Workplace

Workplace Violence - Definition

Workplace Violence is defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to mean:

  • The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,

  • An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to a worker; and,

  • A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that causes physical injury to the worker.

    Workplace violence includes domestic violence that could cause physical injury to a worker in a workplace.

Workplace Violence - Prevalence

  • Almost one in five violent incidents in Canada occurs at work (Statistics Canada, 2007).

  • Women are at higher risk of workplace violence (ILO, 1998).

  • The risk of violence is higher in healthcare, education, police, security and corrections, social services, retail, hospitality, financial institutions and transportation (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2009).

Workplace Violence - Prevalence

  • In 2007, there were 2,150 allowed lost-time claims from assaults, violent acts, harassment and acts of war or terrorism in Ontario (WSIB, 2007).

  • From April 1, 2008, to September 30, 2009, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors made 198 field visits and issued 185 orders related to violence in the workplace.

  • HSAGS (Health & Safety Association for Government Services) Data - Universities account for 13% of lost time injuries (LTIs) due to violence.

Workplace Violence - Risk Factors

  • Working in high crime areas

  • Securing or protecting valuables

  • Transporting people or goods

  • Working alone or in small numbers

    (North American Institute for Safety & Health)

  • Working in community based settings

  • Working with unstable or volatile people

  • Handling cash

  • Mobile workplaces

  • Direct contact with customers

Workplace Violence - Negative Effects on the Workplace

Higher rates of injuries and illness

Increased short and long term disability costs

Increased EAP costs

Increased WSIB costs

(North American Institute for Safety & Health)

  • Decreased commitment & productivity

  • Higher levels of client dissatisfaction

  • Higher staff turnover and intention to leave

  • Higher rates of absenteeism

  • Poor organization image

Typology of Workplace Violence

Type I – Criminal Intent

  • Offended has no legitimate relationship to the workplace

  • Usually enters to commit robbery or theft

    • Example – convenience store, taxi driver

      Type II – Customer/Client

  • Customer or client becomes violent during the course of a normal transaction

    • Example – nurses, social worker, police officer

Typology – continued

Type III –Inside the Workplace

  • Employee assaults or attacks co-workers

  • Generally employee is responding to perceived “injustices”

  • Rarely does such a person just snap; the violence is generally cumulative

    Type IV – Personal Relationships

  • Employees who are suffering through stormy and often violent relationship with significant other

    • Usually have high absenteeism and low productivity

Reporting Threats of Violence

  • Specific Risks or Threats of Violence:

  • Activate the emergency response procedures (main campus – dial 88 or activate a Red Emergency Pole / off site excluding hospitals – dial 911).

  • Domestic violence is recognized as a potential

  • risk.

  • Reporting Procedure:

  • Threats or incidents of workplace violence should be reported to a supervisor, a person of authority or Security and Parking Services.

  • Accident/Incident form must be completed to ensure corrective measures have been addressed.

Assessment of Risks of Workplace Violence

  • General Risk Assessment Measures:

  • Security Services has audited all University Main Campus buildings against Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) standards.

  • Upon request, Security Services will carry out incident based security and crime prevention environmental assessments.

Disclosing People with a History of Violence

  • Employers are required to provide information, including personal information, to workers about a person with a history of violent behaviour if:

    • The worker can be expected to encounter that person in the course of his or her work; and,

    • The risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the worker to physical injury.

  • Employers are only permitted to disclose the amount of personal information reasonably necessary to protect the workers from physical injury.

  • Each case will be assessed on its own merits with assistance from Security Services.

Domestic Violence

  • Employees who believe they are at risk of violence in the workplace including domestic violence must advise the employer and the employer should take appropriate steps which may include seeking the assistance of local police.

  • The employer is required to take precautions if it “ought reasonably to be aware of” a domestic violence situation that may spill into the workplace.

Policy and Program for Workplace Violence

  • Focus of the Violence Prevention Policy and Program include:

  • Identifying appropriate means and resources for assessing risks of violence in the workplace;

  • Promoting awareness of the policy through training and communication; and,

  • Informing the University community about response protocols for dealing with a violent or potentially violent situation.

  • Applies to all McMaster University employees, students, visitors, volunteers, contractors and subcontractors.

  • Criminal or civil proceeding may be initiated against individuals who engage in workplace violence.

  • The policy is publicly available on the University website.

Working Alone

  • Supervisor shall provide a Standard Operating Procedure that includes:

  • • Identification of the individual and work location;

  • • Identification of the possible risks;

  • • The required communications system i.e. radio, telephone,

  • buddy system etc.;

  • • The procedures to eliminate or minimize the identified

  • risks;

  • • Details of how emergency assistance will be obtained; and,

  • • Maintaining a copy of the SOP on file and update procedures as necessary.

  • Refer to RMM #304: Working Alone Program at

Right to Refuse Unsafe Work

  • Work Refusal:

  • Individuals have the right to execute a work refusal when workplace violence is likely to endanger him or herself.

  • In the case of a work refusal, refer to the OHSA and RMM #114: Work Refusal Program at


Personalized Presentations

Personal Safety

Dealing with Difficult People

Dealing with Violent Incidents

Risk Assessments and Audits

Assistance in developing departmental protocols for office safety

CPTED and security audits and reviews

Emergency Guidebook

- Available at

Contact Sgt. Cathy O’Donnell at ext. 26060 or by email at [email protected] for a booking.

Program for Violence Prevention in the Workplace

  • Internal Support Services:

  • Security Services: ext 24281 Campus Emergency: ext 88 Offsite: refer to emergency # offsite

  • Hamilton Health Sciences Security if located at an HHS location

  • Student Wellness Centre

  • Emergency First Response Team (EFRT)

  • Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT)

  • Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS):

  • Judicial Affairs

  • Residence Life

  • Responders will access internal and external support services as needed.

Program for Violence Prevention in the Workplace

Additional Support Services:

  • Hamilton Police Services: Local Police Department which provides direct patrol, back up and specialized services when requested.

  • Crisis Outreach Service Team (COAST): Hamilton Police services in conjunction with a mental health nurse.

  • Other Local Police Services: Each local Police Department is responsible for providing law enforcement and emergency response activities at any off site locations.

  • Responders will access internal and external support services as needed.

Harassment in the Workplace

Workplace Harassment - Definition

Workplace Harassment is defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to mean:

Engaging in a course of vexatious comments or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

“Vexatious” comment or conduct is

comment or conduct made without

reasonable cause or excuse.

Examples of Workplace Harassment

  • Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or innuendo that is not true,

  • excluding or isolating someone and socially intimidating a person.

  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person's work.

  • Removing areas of responsibilities without cause, changing work guidelines, establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail, withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information.

  • Making jokes that are 'obviously offensive' by spoken word or e-mail.

  • Intruding on a person's privacy by pestering, spying or stalking.

  • Underworked - creating a feeling of uselessness.

  • Yelling or using profanity.

  • Criticizing a person persistently or constantly belittling a person's opinions.

  • Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion.

(Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety)

Consequences of Workplace Harassment


Shock, anger, frustration/helplessness

Increased sense of vulnerability

Loss of confidence

Physical symptoms (sleeplessness, appetite)

Psychosomatic symptoms (headaches, stomach aches)

Panic or anxiety

Family tension and stress

Inability to concentrate

Low morale

Poor productivity




Costs (EFAP, sick leaves, WSIB, grievances)



Customer service

Image, reputation

Violent situation

Policy and Program for Workplace Harassment

  • Anti-Discrimination Policy:

  • The policy will be reviewed annually.

  • The policy will be made available in electronic format and in written format to be posted in the workplace.

  • The policy is approved by the Board of Governors.

Reporting Workplace Harassment

Options for Reporting Workplace Harassment:

1) Human Rights & Equity Services

A person wishing to make a complaint of harassment may choose to adhere to any of the following processes:

Informal Resolution without a Written Complaint

- The complainant requests the assistance of a Human Rights and Equity (HRES) Officer to stop the offending behaviour.

Informal Resolution with a Written Complaint

- A complainant may file a signed, written complaint of breach of the policy.

- The respondent shall be provided with a copy of the complaint and is given the opportunity to respond.

- The HRES Officer may contact persons of authority over the respondent.

Formal Resolution with a Written Complaint

- A formal hearing will be conducted before a tribunal selected from the membership of a Hearing Panel.

Refer to the McMaster Anti-Discrimination Policy for procedures on how a complaint will be addressed.

Reporting Workplace Harassment – continued

Options for Reporting Workplace Harassment:

2) Human Resources – Employee and Labour Relations

A worker may contact a Labour Relations (LR) Advisor to report incident(s) of harassment. Workers may choose to resolve the complaint through informal or formal procedures with assistance of an Advisor.

Workers may consult the workplace harassment language in their respective collective agreement and contact their union representative as needed.

Video: “Harassment: Keeping it Out of the Workplace”

Think you’re a Victim?

  • DO NOT RETALIATE. You may end up looking like the perpetrator and will most certainly cause confusion for those responsible for evaluating and responding to the situation.

Think you’re a Victim, continued…

  • FIRMLY tell the person that his or her behaviour is not acceptable and ask them to stop. You can ask a supervisor or union member to be with you when you approach the person.

  • KEEP a factual journal or diary of daily events. Record:

    • The date, time and what happened in as much detail as possible

    • The names of witnesses

    • The outcome of the event

  • Remember, it is not just the character of the incidents, but the number, frequency, and especially the pattern that can reveal the bullying or harassment.

Think You’re a Victim - continued

  • KEEP copies of any letters, memos, e-mails, faxes, etc., received from the person.

  • REPORT the harassment to the person identified in your workplace policy, your supervisor, or a delegated manager. If your concerns are minimized, proceed to the next level of management.

  • Remember: You are NOT to blame!


  • Philip is constantly being put down and criticized by one of his coworkers. He has no idea why she does not like him, but clearly she does not. Sometimes the insults are overheard by his coworkers, and other times muttered so quietly that no one can hear….or they are spoken behind closed doors with no witnesses. Philip is having trouble sleeping and has seen his doctor for stress-related symptoms.

  • What should Philip do?

Philip Should….

  • Firmly tell his harasser that her behaviour is unacceptable and ask her to stop.

  • Keep a factual journal of daily events. Record time, date, what happened in as much detail as possible, including names of witnesses, and outcome of the event.

  • Keep copies of all correspondence received from the harasser.

  • Report the harassment to supervisor, HR, etc.

  • Access the Employee & Family Assistance Program.

Internal Resources:


Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES)

Employee and Labour Relations (ELR)

Your Union Representative

Security Services: ext 24281 Campus Emergency: ext 88 Offsite: refer to emergency # offsite

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP): Human Solutions:

Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS):

FHSc Safety Office:

Program for Harassment Prevention in the Workplace

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