Ontario Targets Workplace Violence with Winter Blitz

When is the last time you thought about workplace violence and harassment issues? Health care workplaces across Ontario need to make sure they are compliant with the violence and harassment policies and programs set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) this winter, as OHSA inspectors will focus on enforcing these requirements.

The inspectors will “blitz” hospitals, long-term care homes and residential group homes to ensure that employees are:

  • Preparing policies and programs to protect workers from workplace violence and harassment
  • Providing information to workers on the policies and programs
  • Assessing violence risks in the workplace
  • Establishing measures and procedures to control violence
  • Taking reasonable precautions to protect workers from domestic violence in the workplace

As Ontario Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi explains, “Our government is committed to preventing injuries and deaths of workers in health care workplaces, and ensuring every Ontarian feels safe at work. This winter blitz is about creating awareness, so at the end of the day workers in the health care sector can recognize situations where themselves or their co-workers may be at risk.”

Why the Focus on Healthcare Institutions?

One-third of all incidents of workplace violence in Canada occur in health care and social service settings, according to Statistics Canada. So the Ministry of Labour (MOL) created Safe at Work Ontario, a program designed to:

  • Improve the health and safety culture of workplaces
  • Reduce workplace injuries and illness
  • Lessen the burden on the health care system
  • Avoid costs for employers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
  • Provide a level playing field for compliant companies

“Violence is a significant hazard for workers in the health care sector. We’re working to improve health and safety, and prevent injuries and deaths of workers exposed to violence at Ontario’s health care workplaces,” according to George Gritziotis, the MOL’s chief prevention officer.

How does the MOL Define Harassment and Violence?

The OHSA’s definition of harassment includes “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.” Harassment can involve unwelcome words or actions that are known or should be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating or demeaning to a worker or group of workers. It can also include behavior that intimidates, isolates or even discriminates against the targeted individuals.

OHSA defines violence as the exercise or attempted exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to a worker; or a statement or behavior that can be reasonably interpreted as a threat to exercise physical force.

At Employment Professionals Canada, we are also committed to employee safety. We meet and assess each client and workplace before we send any of our associates to work there. To find out more about how we care for your career, contact EPC today!