Employers in Ontario are required to implement new workplace violence and harassment policies and procedures by June 15, 2010 in order to comply with Bill 168: Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009.
All employers, even those who use independent contractors, must prepare and annually review policies on workplace violence and harassment. The Ministry of Labour has created example Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment policies. These examples are a good starting point for employers but must be tailored to meet the specific needs of their workers.The policies should not simply be kept in a binder or put in a drawer. In certain cases the policies must be posted. Employees must receive training on the policies. Programs to enforce the policies, including reporting and investigation procedures, must be implemented. Each workplace is unique and employers must assess the nature of their particular workplace to determine the risks for violence and harassment and the ways to minimize risks through policies and procedures.Below are some definitions and examples of Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment.WORKPLACE VIOLENCE means:(a) the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker;(b) an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; or,(c) 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 could cause physical injury to the worker. Examples of workplace violence:
Verbally threatening to attack a worker;
Leaving threatening notes at or sending threatening e-mails to a workplace;
Shaking a fist in a worker’s face;
Wielding a weapon at work;
Hitting or trying to hit a worker;
Throwing an object at a worker;
Sexual violence against a worker;
Kicking an object the worker is standing on such as a ladder; or,
Trying to run down a worker using a vehicle or equipment such as a forklift.
WORKPLACE HARASSMENT means 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. Examples of workplace harassment:
Remarks, jokes or innuendos that demean, ridicule, intimidate or offend;
Displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials in print or electronic form;
Repeated offensive or intimidating phone calls or e-mails; or,
Inappropriate sexual touching, advances, suggestions or requests.