Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Workplace injuries caused by violence rose 16 per cent in 2018 in Saskatchewan. Some of these injuries could have been prevented if employers and workers had paid attention to and acted on the warning signs of aggressive behaviour, according to a WorkSafe Saskatchewan statement on June 25, 2019.
In order to spot the potential for violence at work, it is important to know that workplace violence encompasses any situation in which an employee is abused, assaulted, threatened or harassed by a co-worker, supervisor, client, patient or a member of the general public. It includes physical attacks such as hitting, biting and pushing and verbal and psychological abuse like demeaning remarks and intimidation.
While it can be hard to predict when an individual may turn violent, signs of high stress can indicate if an individual may become aggressive. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Hamilton, Ontario says warning signs include crying, sulking or temper tantrums: excessive absenteeism or lack of punctuality, disrespect for authority, swearing or emotional language, blaming others for mistakes and complaints of unfair personal treatment.
Body language and non-verbal cues that could signal when a person make become violent include sweating, signs of extreme fatigue, pacing or repetitive movements, clenched jaws of fists and violation of personal space like getting too close, the CCOHS notes.
Knowing what violence is also necessitates as understanding of what it is not. The Saskatchewan government says workplace harassment should not be confused with ordinary work disagreements and does not include daily management or supervisory decisions over work assignments, job assessments and evaluations, workplace inspections, implementation of appropriate dress codes and disciplinary actions.
If someone at a workplace shows one or more warning signs for violence, share your concerns with your supervisor, human resources department or a counsellor with your employee assistance program, the statement advises. An employer’s written violence-prevention policy, if there is one, is a good place to find out how complaints are investigated and resolved.
I cannot believe that the province of Saskatchewan is so far behind other provinces in dealing with workplace violence. They have been moving steadily forward on health and safety issues and are not in the shadow of any other province, waiting for cues. Mind you, maybe they did not fully understand violence and harassment in the workplace and the need for work protection.
In Ontario, the need was identified in 2007 in surveys and reports and the new legislation for violence and harassment was approved in 2009 and enacted in June of 2010.
Sections 32.0.1 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) states,
32.0.1 (1) “An employer shall,
(a) prepare a policy with respect to workplace violence;
(b) prepare a policy with respect to workplace harassment; and
(c) review the policies as often as is necessary, but at least annually.”
(2) The policies shall be in written form and shall be posted at a conspicuous place in the workplace.
Section 32.0.2 of the OHSA states,
32.0.2 (1) “An employer shall develop and maintain a program to implement the policy with respect to workplace violence required.”
(2) “The program shall,
(a) include measures and procedures to control the risks identified in the assessment required under subsection 32.0.3 (1) as likely to expose a worker to physical injury;
(b) include measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur;
(c) include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence to the employer or supervisor;
(d) set out how the employer will investigate and deal with incidents or complaints of workplace violence; and
(e) include any prescribed elements.”
I hope the delay in the province of Saskatchewan has not cost them too much. The workforce needs to be protected!
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.