Blog Post #362 – Assaults Far From Uncommon

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

Manitoba’s child and social workers are under attack, with more than a third of those surveyed reporting being physically assaulted and nine of 10 experiencing verbal threats.

The findings are among the results of a new poll, released in March, commissioned by the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) and conducted by Winnipeg-based Viewpoints Research Ltd. The poll’s sample size was 100 workers out of a total of the 330 social workers in the province that the union represents, says MGEU spokesperson John Baert.

Specifically, the poll found 35 per cent of respondents were assaulted while undertaking child welfare duties. Almost 86 per cent of those surveyed reported being assaulted one to three times, and 8.6 per cent reported being assaulted between five and 10 times.

The poll cited excessive caseloads (too many children, families or clients) as the single biggest work concern identified by social workers. “Our hope is that the government begins to address the real need to bring caseloads down and in order to do that, they’re going to have to hire more front-line staff,” Baert says.

In October of 2006, the province began a $48-million major overhaul of the child and family services system, says Charlie McDougall, a spokesperson for Manitoba Family Services and Housing. Part of that overhaul, McDougall says, was a plan to hire 150 new social workers over a three-year period.

My opinion

Ontario introduced violence and harassment in legislation and was included in the OHSA on June 15, 2010. There was a need and the Ontario government decided to take the high road and fix what was perceived to be a large problem.

The province of Manitoba created violence in the workplace legislation as well and has become section 11 of the Manitoba workplace Safety and Health act. I was please to see that the new legislation was created very quickly and became law in 2006 as Manitoba regulation 217/2006. (much more quickly than Ontario) If you live in Manitoba, please review the current legislation and apply it to your workplace.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Violence and Harassment’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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