Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Canada’s national police force reached a settlement in 2 class-action lawsuits regarding accusations of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination among its members by offering a compensation package totaling $100,000,000 for several hundred women who have served with the force over the past 42 years.
In a news conference held in Ottawa on October 6, 2016, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson offered a lengthy apology to the women of the force. “You came to the RCMP wanting to personally contribute to your community and we failed you. We hurt you. For that, I am truly sorry,” said Paulson, who also extended his apology to Canadians. “The harassment problem in the RCMP was enabled by an organizational culture that developed over time in isolation from the values of the communities we serve. Effective accountability and enlightened leadership have been instrumental in bringing us back alongside modernity.”
Janet Merlo and Linda Gillis Davidson, the plaintiff of the lawsuits, attended the conference. Merlo filed her suit in March 2012 and Davidson in March of 2015.
Ontario felt very strongly about harassment and bullying in the workplace. In June of 2010 the new Violence and harassment sections of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) were introduced. Section 32.0.1 to 32.0.8 were added and companies needed to ensure that they were to be followed. All companies need a policy and procedure in place, signed by the senior person on staff.
The actual sections can be reviewed below,
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.”
32.0.2 (1) “An employer shall develop and maintain a program to implement the policy with respect to workplace violence required under clause 32.0.1 (1) (a).”
(2) “Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), 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.”
32.0.3 (1) “An employer shall assess the risks of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, the type of work or the conditions of work.”
(2) “The assessment shall take into account,
(a) circumstances that would be common to similar workplaces;
(b) circumstances specific to the workplace; and
(c) any other prescribed elements.”
(3) “An employer shall,
(a) advise the committee or a health and safety representative, if any, of the results of the assessment, and provide a copy if the assessment is in writing; and
(b) if there is no committee or health and safety representative, advise the workers of the results of the assessment and, if the assessment is in writing, provide copies on request or advise the workers how to obtain copies.”
(4) “An employer shall reassess the risks of workplace violence as often as is necessary to ensure that the related policy under clause 32.0.1 (1) (a) and the related program under subsection 32.0.2 (1) continue to protect workers from workplace violence.”
32.0.4 “If an employer becomes aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in the workplace, the employer shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”
Duties re violence
32.0.5 (1) “For greater certainty, the employer duties set out in section 25, the supervisor duties set out in section 27, and the worker duties set out in section 28 apply, as appropriate, with respect to workplace violence.”
(2) “An employer shall provide a worker with,
(a) information and instruction that is appropriate for the worker on the contents of the policy and program with respect to workplace violence; and
(b) any other prescribed information or instruction.”
Provision of information
(3) “An employer’s duty to provide information to a worker under clause 25 (2) (a) and a supervisor’s duty to advise a worker under clause 27 (2) (a) include the duty to provide information, including personal information, related to a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour if,
(a) the worker can be expected to encounter that person in the course of his or her work; and
(b) the risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the worker to physical injury.”
Limit on disclosure
(4) “No employer or supervisor shall disclose more personal information in the circumstances described in subsection (3) than is reasonably necessary to protect the worker from physical injury.”
32.0.6 (1) An employer shall, in consultation with the committee or a health and safety representative, if any, develop and maintain a written program to implement the policy with respect to workplace harassment required under clause 32.0.1 (1) (b). 2016, c. 2, Sched. 4, s. 2 (1).
(2) “Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the program shall,
(a) include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to the employer or supervisor;
(b) include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace harassment to a person other than the employer or supervisor, if the employer or supervisor is the alleged harasser;
(c) set out how incidents or complaints of workplace harassment will be investigated and dealt with;
(d) set out how information obtained about an incident or complaint of workplace harassment, including identifying information about any individuals involved, will not be disclosed unless the disclosure is necessary for the purposes of investigating or taking corrective action with respect to the incident or complaint, or is otherwise required by law;
(e) set out how a worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if he or she is a worker of the employer, will be informed of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation; and
(f) include any prescribed elements.”
Duties re harassment
32.0.7 (1) “To protect a worker from workplace harassment, an employer shall ensure that,
(a) an investigation is conducted into incidents and complaints of workplace harassment that is appropriate in the circumstances;
(b) the worker who has allegedly experienced workplace harassment and the alleged harasser, if he or she is a worker of the employer, are informed in writing of the results of the investigation and of any corrective action that has been taken or that will be taken as a result of the investigation;
(c) the program developed under section 32.0.6 is reviewed as often as necessary, but at least annually, to ensure that it adequately implements the policy with respect to workplace harassment required under clause 32.0.1 (1) (b); and
(d) such other duties as may be prescribed are carried out.”
Results of investigation not a report
(2) “The results of an investigation under clause (1) (a), and any report created in the course of or for the purposes of the investigation, are not a report respecting occupational health and safety for the purposes of subsection 25 (2).”
32.0.8 “An employer shall provide a worker with,
(a) information and instruction that is appropriate for the worker on the contents of the policy and program with respect to workplace harassment; and
(b) any other prescribed information.”
Please ensure that your workplace is a safe place.
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 ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Violence and Harassment’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.