Violence & Harassment
Prevention in the Workplace
Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services
Security and Parking Services
Violence in the Workplace
• Definition: Workplace Violence
• Legislation/Standards
• Prevalence
• Consequences of Workplace Violence
• Risk Factors for Workplace Violence
• Types of Violence
• McMaster University’s Policy and Program
Harassment in the Workplace
• Definition: Workplace Harassment
• Legislation/Standards
• Consequences of Workplace Harassment
• McMaster University’s Policy and Program
• Video: “Harassment: Keeping it out of the Workplace”
• Think You’re a Victim?
• Scenario
Bill 168: Amendment to the
Occupational Health & Safety Act
• The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) now includes
definitions of workplace violence and harassment.
Requirements of Bill 168:
• Prepare a policy and program for violence
and harassment prevention in the workplace
to include risk assessments, controls,
emergency response, and reporting and
Violence in the Workplace
Workplace Violence - Definition
Workplace Violence is defined by the Occupational Health and
Safety Act, to mean:
The exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in
a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the
An attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a
workplace, that could cause physical injury to a worker; and,
A statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to
interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the
worker, in a workplace, that causes physical injury to the
Workplace violence includes domestic violence that could
cause physical injury to a worker in a workplace.
Workplace Violence - Prevalence
• Almost one in five violent incidents in Canada occurs at work
(Statistics Canada, 2007).
• Women are at higher risk of workplace violence (ILO, 1998).
• The risk of violence is higher in healthcare, education, police,
security and corrections, social services, retail, hospitality,
financial institutions and transportation (Ontario Ministry of
Labour, 2009).
Workplace Violence - Prevalence
• In 2007, there were 2,150 allowed lost-time claims from assaults,
violent acts, harassment and acts of war or terrorism in Ontario
(WSIB, 2007).
• From April 1, 2008, to September 30, 2009, Ontario Ministry of
Labour inspectors made 198 field visits and issued 185 orders
related to violence in the workplace.
• HSAGS (Health & Safety Association for Government Services)
Data - Universities account for 13% of lost time injuries (LTIs)
due to violence.
Workplace Violence - Risk Factors
• Working in community
based settings
• Working in high crime
• Working with unstable
or volatile people
• Securing or protecting
• Handling cash
• Transporting people or
• Mobile workplaces
• Direct contact with
• Working alone or in
small numbers
(North American Institute for Safety & Health)
Workplace Violence - Negative Effects on the Workplace
• Decreased commitment &
• Higher rates of injuries
and illness
• Higher levels of client
• Increased short and long
term disability costs
• Higher staff turnover and
intention to leave
• Increased EAP costs
• Higher rates of
• Increased WSIB costs
• Poor organization image
(North American Institute for Safety & Health)
Typology of Workplace Violence
Type I – Criminal Intent
– Offended has no legitimate relationship to the
– Usually enters to commit robbery or theft
• Example – convenience store, taxi driver
Type II – Customer/Client
– Customer or client becomes violent during the
course of a normal transaction
• Example – nurses, social worker, police officer
Typology – continued
Type III –Inside the Workplace
– Employee assaults or attacks co-workers
– Generally employee is responding to perceived
– Rarely does such a person just snap; the
violence is generally cumulative
Type IV – Personal Relationships
– Employees who are suffering through stormy
and often violent relationship with significant
• Usually have high absenteeism and low
Reporting Threats of Violence
Specific Risks or Threats of Violence:
• Activate the emergency response procedures (main campus –
dial 88 or activate a Red Emergency Pole / off site excluding
hospitals – dial 911).
• Domestic violence is recognized as a potential
Reporting Procedure:
• Threats or incidents of workplace violence should be reported to
a supervisor, a person of authority or Security and Parking
• Accident/Incident form must be completed to ensure corrective
measures have been addressed.
Assessment of Risks of Workplace Violence
General Risk Assessment Measures:
• Security Services has audited all University Main Campus buildings
against Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)
• Upon request, Security Services will carry out incident based security
and crime prevention environmental assessments.
Disclosing People with a History of Violence
Employers are required to provide information, including
personal information, to workers about a person with a
history of violent behaviour if:
The worker can be expected to encounter that person
in the course of his or her work; and,
The risk of workplace violence is likely to expose the
worker to physical injury.
Employers are only permitted to disclose the amount of
personal information reasonably necessary to protect the
workers from physical injury.
Each case will be assessed on its own merits with
assistance from Security Services.
Domestic Violence
• Employees who believe they are at risk of violence in the workplace
including domestic violence must advise the employer and the
employer should take appropriate steps which may include seeking the
assistance of local police.
• The employer is required to take precautions if it “ought reasonably
to be aware of” a domestic violence situation that may spill into the
Policy and Program for Workplace Violence
Focus of the Violence Prevention Policy and Program include:
Identifying appropriate means and resources for assessing risks of violence
in the workplace;
Promoting awareness of the policy through training and communication;
Informing the University community about response protocols for dealing
with a violent or potentially violent situation.
Applies to all McMaster University employees, students, visitors,
volunteers, contractors and subcontractors.
Criminal or civil proceeding may be initiated against individuals who
engage in workplace violence.
The policy is publicly available on the University website.
Working Alone
Supervisor shall provide a Standard Operating Procedure that
• Identification of the individual and work location;
• Identification of the possible risks;
• The required communications system i.e. radio, telephone,
buddy system etc.;
• The procedures to eliminate or minimize the identified
• Details of how emergency assistance will be obtained; and,
• Maintaining a copy of the SOP on file and update procedures as necessary.
Refer to RMM #304: Working Alone Program at
Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
Work Refusal:
• Individuals have the right to execute a work refusal when
workplace violence is likely to endanger him or herself.
• In the case of a work refusal, refer to the OHSA and RMM
#114: Work Refusal Program at
Personalized Presentations
– Personal Safety
– Dealing with Difficult People
– Dealing with Violent Incidents
Risk Assessments and Audits
– Assistance in developing departmental protocols for office
– CPTED and security audits and reviews
Emergency Guidebook
- Available at
Contact Sgt. Cathy O’Donnell at ext. 26060 or by email at for a booking.
Program for Violence Prevention in the Workplace
Internal Support Services:
• Security Services: ext 24281 Campus Emergency: ext 88 Offsite: refer to emergency
# offsite
• Hamilton Health Sciences Security if located at an HHS location
• Student Wellness Centre
• Emergency First Response Team (EFRT)
• Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT)
• Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS):
• Judicial Affairs
• Residence Life
• Responders will access internal and external support services as needed.
Program for Violence Prevention in the Workplace
Additional Support Services:
• Hamilton Police Services: Local Police Department which
provides direct patrol, back up and specialized services when
• Crisis Outreach Service Team (COAST): Hamilton Police
services in conjunction with a mental health nurse.
• Other Local Police Services: Each local Police Department
is responsible for providing law enforcement and emergency
response activities at any off site locations.
• Responders will access internal and external support
services as needed.
Harassment in the Workplace
Workplace Harassment - Definition
Workplace Harassment is defined by the Occupational Health and
Safety Act, to mean:
• Engaging in a course of vexatious comments or conduct against a
worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be
known to be unwelcome.
• “Vexatious” comment or conduct is
comment or conduct made without
reasonable cause or excuse.
Examples of Workplace Harassment
• Spreading malicious rumours,
gossip, or innuendo that is not true,
excluding or isolating someone and
socially intimidating a person.
• Undermining or deliberately
impeding a person's work.
• Removing areas of responsibilities
without cause, changing work
guidelines, establishing impossible
deadlines that will set up the
individual to fail, withholding
necessary information or purposefully
giving the wrong information.
• Making jokes that are 'obviously
offensive' by spoken word or e-mail.
• Intruding on a person's privacy
by pestering, spying or stalking.
• Underworked - creating a
feeling of uselessness.
• Yelling or using profanity.
• Criticizing a person persistently
or constantly belittling a person's
• Blocking applications for
training, leave or promotion.
(Canadian Centre for Occupational
Health & Safety)
Consequences of Workplace Harassment
• Shock, anger,
• Increased sense of
• Loss of confidence
• Physical symptoms
(sleeplessness, appetite)
• Psychosomatic symptoms
(headaches, stomach
• Panic or anxiety
• Family tension and stress
• Inability to concentrate
• Low morale
• Poor productivity
• Absenteeism
• Turnover
• Costs (EFAP, sick leaves,
WSIB, grievances)
• Accident/injuries
• Morale
• Customer service
• Image, reputation
• Violent situation
Policy and Program for Workplace Harassment
Anti-Discrimination Policy:
• The policy will be reviewed annually.
• The policy will be made available in
electronic format and in written format
to be posted in the workplace.
• The policy is approved by the Board
of Governors.
Reporting Workplace Harassment
Options for Reporting Workplace Harassment:
1) Human Rights & Equity Services
A person wishing to make a complaint of harassment may choose to adhere to any of the
following processes:
Informal Resolution without a Written Complaint
- The complainant requests the assistance of a Human Rights and Equity (HRES)
Officer to stop the offending behaviour.
Informal Resolution with a Written Complaint
- A complainant may file a signed, written complaint of breach of the policy.
- The respondent shall be provided with a copy of the complaint and is given the
opportunity to respond.
- The HRES Officer may contact persons of authority over the respondent.
Formal Resolution with a Written Complaint
- A formal hearing will be conducted before a tribunal selected from the
membership of a Hearing Panel.
Refer to the McMaster Anti-Discrimination Policy for procedures on how
a complaint will be addressed.
Reporting Workplace Harassment – continued
Options for Reporting Workplace Harassment:
2) Human Resources – Employee and Labour Relations
A worker may contact a Labour Relations (LR) Advisor to report
incident(s) of harassment. Workers may choose to resolve the
complaint through informal or formal procedures with assistance of
an Advisor.
Workers may consult the workplace harassment language in their
respective collective agreement and contact their union
representative as needed.
Video: “Harassment: Keeping it
Out of the Workplace”
Think you’re a Victim?
You may end up looking
like the perpetrator and will most certainly cause confusion
for those responsible for evaluating and responding to the
Think you’re a Victim, continued…
• FIRMLY tell the person that his or her behaviour is not
acceptable and ask them to stop. You can ask a
supervisor or union member to be with you when you
approach the person.
• KEEP a factual journal or diary of daily events. Record:
– The date, time and what happened in as much detail
as possible
– The names of witnesses
– The outcome of the event
• Remember, it is not just the character of the incidents,
but the number, frequency, and especially the pattern
that can reveal the bullying or harassment.
Think You’re a Victim - continued
• KEEP copies of any letters, memos, e-mails, faxes, etc.,
received from the person.
• REPORT the harassment to the person identified in your
workplace policy, your supervisor, or a delegated manager.
If your concerns are minimized, proceed to the next level of
• Remember: You are NOT to blame!
• Philip is constantly being put down and criticized by one of
his coworkers. He has no idea why she does not like him,
but clearly she does not. Sometimes the insults are
overheard by his coworkers, and other times muttered so
quietly that no one can hear….or they are spoken behind
closed doors with no witnesses. Philip is having trouble
sleeping and has seen his doctor for stress-related
• What should Philip do?
Philip Should….
• Firmly tell his harasser that her behaviour is unacceptable
and ask her to stop.
• Keep a factual journal of daily events. Record time, date,
what happened in as much detail as possible, including
names of witnesses, and outcome of the event.
• Keep copies of all correspondence received from the
• Report the harassment to supervisor, HR, etc.
• Access the Employee & Family Assistance Program.
Program for Harassment Prevention in the Workplace
Internal Resources:
Human Rights and Equity Services (HRES)
Employee and Labour Relations (ELR)
Your Union Representative
Security Services: ext 24281 Campus Emergency: ext 88 Offsite: refer to
emergency # offsite
Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP): Human Solutions:
Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS):
FHSc Safety Office:

Title Title Title Title June 13, 2006 Peter George Ken