All workers have the right to attend a safe workplace and the Ministry of Labor reminds people that preventing work-related injuries is the most important job at any workplace. Violence and harassment at work are two major safety issues that have recently been introduced. June 15th marked the fourth anniversary of Ontario’s Bill 168, which had the Occupational Health & Safety Act expand its definition of workplace violence and harassment to include specific requirements. The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines workplace violence as any exercise or attempt of “physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause any physical injury to the worker”. Workplace harassment is defined by OHSA as “engaging in 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”.
Although I recommend all workers take training in workplace violence and harassment prevention, people who work with the public, typically those in the health care field, are more at risk of an incident occurring. The best way to prevent a harassment or violent incident from arising in the workplace is with early signs. Talk to the people you are servicing, talk to your co-workers, talk with your supervisors and listen to what others are saying. All employees, supervisors and any person in the workplace must understand what it means to have zero tolerance for any workplace violence and/or harassment.