Deadline Nears for Ontario's Workplace Violence Law
Safety organizations are helping employers prepare for the June 15 compliance date for Bill 168, which applies to all workplaces in the province where more than five workers are regularly employed.
Beginning June 15, workplaces in Ontario where more than five workers are regularly employed must have in place violence and harassment policies, employee reporting and incident investigation procedures, and a process for dealing with incidents, complaints, and threats of violence. Employers subject to the law, named Bill 168, must complete a risk assessment of violence hazards that may arise from the nature of the workplace, the type of work, or the work conditions before they develop a program.
Both the Industrial Accident Prevention Association, the largest Canadian OSH organization with more than 50,000 member companies, and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety are offering resources and courses to help Ontario employers comply with the regulation.
The law defines workplace violence as:
- "The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker in a workplace that causes or could cause physical injury to a worker."
- "An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace that could cause physical injury to a worker."
- "A statement or behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker."
It defines workplace harassment as: "A course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome."
According to IAPA, Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors made 417 field visits and issued 351 orders related to workplace violence from April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, and there were 2,150 allowed lost-time claims from assaults, violent acts, harassment, and acts of war or terrorism in Ontario during 2007.