Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
WorkSafeBC has confirmed that it is investigating the West Vancouver Police Department (WVPD), following media reports of workplace bullying and violence.
Megan Johnston, spokesperson for WorkSafeBC in Richmond, British Columbia, says occupational safety officers will visit the workplace to determine is in compliance with new anti-bullying and harassment policies that came into effect November 2013. She adds that WorkSafeBC became aware of concerns about workplace health and safety issues through media reports.
The retirement announcement of Chief Constable Peter Lepine has raised concerns about the WVPD’s recent survey on employee engagement and satisfaction, and allegations of sexual and racial harassment, bullying and retribution against those who bring forth such allegations.
On February 17, 2014, Lepine e-mailed all staff in the police department regarding his impending retirement when his contract ends in September. He clarified that while many would link his decision and his note to a news article on the WVPD’s employment engagement survey and the anonymous comments regarding harassment in the workplace, his succession planning process had been in the works since November 2013.
Detective Corporal Tom Wolff Van Gudenberg, president of the West Vancouver Police Association, says he is concerned about the employee engagement survey and allegations, but that he thinks many of the comments that former employees have made in the media are not indicative of the current conditions of the police department.
West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith says the WVPD will commence its search for a new chief.
All workplaces, including firefighters and police forces, must include strictly adhered to workplace violence and harassment policies. This has been coming right across Canada and as early as June 2010 for Ontario.
The situation here sounds like a possible chance to cover or ignore the real problems at the WVPD and the union seems to deliberately refuse to consider that the current situation of harassment may be real and in need of addressing.
The onus has always been on the employer to ensure that all workplaces are safe places for any worker, be it the mining sector, construction sector, oil industry, healthcare sector or the industrial sector.
The province of Ontario has made changes to the original harassment regulations so that the occupational health and safety committee has been given more of an input to ensure that the harassment policy meets the need of the individual company.
The employer, also, has to ensure that the program is in place and working correctly.
Section 25, subsection 1 (c) of the OHSA states,
“An employer shall ensure that,
(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.