Written by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
Article from the OH&S Canada magazine – (Nov. 2021)
“Understanding the scope of harassment and violence at work”
In a 2017 survey conducted by the Government of Canada, 60 per cent of respondents reported having experienced harassment and violence at work. These federal employees indicated that their workplaces had policies on harassment and violence in place but they had not received training on them.
When developing a harassment and violence prevention policy, it is important to remember that not incidents happen in the workplace itself and not all perpetrators are employees.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in remote work arrangements, with many workers readily accessible to their supervisors and colleagues by e-mail, direct messaging and video calls.
For example, having to communicate via video means that sometimes incidents of harassment happen virtually, and with no witnesses present. As a result, some employees may decide not to report the harassment and violence they experience for fear of reprisal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also magnified the potential for incidents of family (or domestic) violence with physical distancing and remote work measures placing family members in closer and more frequent proximity to each other, while isolating them from supportive friends and co-workers.
There may also be increased tension and potential for violence at home due to additional stress from employment uncertainties or financial pressures from the pandemic.
Family violence can be a workplace issue, and needs to be included as part of a harassment and violence policy.
Educate employees on how to recognize signs that their colleagues might be suffering at home and how to offer assistance. Also provide education to all employees on ways they can signal for help if they’re experiencing domestic violence themselves.
Keep in mind that an employee may also be the perpetrator of family violence. Having a confidential reporting mechanism is critical. Workers should be made aware of how to submit concerns on their own behalf, or if they feel an intervention may be required for a co-worker.
Training for management should also focus on ways to address and support employees in these situations.
Part #3 of 4 should be delivered over the next few days.
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.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.
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