The majority of individuals associate violence with physical attack. However, there is a much larger issue with violence and harassment in the workplace. It is any act that involves abusing, threatening, intimidating, or assaulting a somebody while they are at work. Despite the fact that legal definitions can differ, the following are commonly considered forms of workplace violence or harassment: behavior that is threatening, such as trashing property, shaking fists, or hurling items. threats made orally or in writing—essentially, any indication that damage will be done. swearing, insults, or condescending remarks constitute verbal abuse. physical assaults such as kicking, beating, or shoving. While some legal systems identify harassment as a distinct concept, others classify it as a type of violence. Any behavior that denigrates, humiliates, irritates, alarms, or verbally insults a person and is known or would be expected to be unwanted is considered harassment. These actions could take the form of unsuitable words, actions, intimidation, bullying, or other behaviors. In general, any action or behavior is considered to be a form of workplace violence and/or harassment, including but not limited to: rumors, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, pushing, theft, physical assaults, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, rape, arson, and murder. Also keep in mind that occurrences of workplace violence or harassment are not just restricted to those that take place in conventional workplaces. Work-related incidents can happen during off-site business events (conferences, trade exhibits), at work-related social gatherings, in clients' homes, or while not at work but as a result of work (a threatening telephone call to your home from a client). NOTE: Bullying and harassment are also considered forms of violence in this article. For more details, kindly consult the following OSH Answers documents: Occupational Bullying Internet abuse or harassment Workplace Violence and Harassment Workplace Violence and Harassment - Domestic (Family) Violence Workplace Violence and Harassment - Lawmaking Dealing with Negative Interactions in the Face of Workplace Violence and Harassment Workplace Violence and Harassment Safety in Parking Lots Workplace Violence and Harassment - Alert Signs Working Late: Violence and Harassment in the Workplace
What aspects of the workplace raise the danger of violence, according to an assessment?
People may be more susceptible to workplace violence due to specific work-related conditions, procedures, and interactions. Examples include working with the general public or consumers. handling cash, valuables, or medicines (e.g. cashiers, pharmacists, veterinarians). performing inspection or enforcement responsibilities (e.g. government employees). delivering assistance, care, guidance, or instruction (e.g. health care staff, teachers). working with volatile or unstable people (e.g. social services, or criminal justice system employees). working in an establishment that serves alcohol (e.g. food and beverage staff). Working alone, in small groups, in remote or low-traffic locations, or as a real estate agent or store clerk, for example (e.g. an isolated reception area, washrooms, storage areas, utility rooms). working in settings rooted in the community (e.g. nurses, social workers and other home visitors). having a portable office (e.g. taxicab, salesperson, public transit). working while there is significant organizational change (e.g. strikes, downsizing). using outside laborers, such as subcontractors or contractors. Violence risk may be higher at particular hours of the day, night, or season. For instance, the deadlines for past-due electricity bills around the holidays, or late at night or early in the morning during tax season. paid days either parent interviews or report cards performance evaluations Depending on where a workplace is located, the risk of violence may rise. For instance: close to establishments where violent crime is more likely to occur (such as bars or banks); at locations away from other buildings or structures In other situations, workplaces might be exposed to family (domestic) violence, such as a family member repeatedly phoning or e-mailing an employee which interferes with their work, or by showing up at the employee's workplace and disrupting co-workers (e.g., asking many questions about the employee's daily habits).
Which professional categories are most frequently the targets of workplace violence?
Certain occupational groups tend to be more at risk from workplace violence. These occupations include: health care employees or those who dispense pharmaceuticals veterinary practices police, security, or correctional officers social services employees, including crisis intervention and counselling services teachers or education providers municipal housing inspectors public works employees retail employees sellers of alcohol (sale, or consumption on the premises) taxi or transit drivers
How do I know if my workplace is at risk?
Conduct a workplace assessment to determine which hazards are present and the risk they represent. When conducting this assessment: Conduct an inspection of the workplace. Focus on the work being done, the workplace design and layout, and your administrative and work practices. Consider internal factors such as culture, conditions, activities, organizational structure, etc. Consider external factors such as location, clients, customers, family violence, etc. Any measures in place to protect the psychological health and safety of the workplace, such as job factors like how much control over the work an individual has, excessive workload, tight deadlines, etc. Review any incidents of violence in your own workplace. Ask employees about their experiences, and whether they are concerned for themselves or others. Review any incidents of violence by consulting existing incident reports, first aid records, and health and safety committee records. Determine whether your workplace has any of the risk factors associated with violence. Evaluate the history of violence in similar places of employment. Obtain information from any organizations with which you are associated; e.g., your industry association, workers' compensation board, occupational health and safety regulators or union office. Seek advice from local police security experts. Review relevant articles or publications. Contact legislative authorities to determine what specific legislation regarding workplace violence prevention applies to your workplace. Organize and review the information you have collected. Look for trends and identify the occupations and locations that you believe are most at risk. Record the results of your assessment. Use this document to develop a prevention program with specific recommendations for reducing the risk of violence within your workplace.
What can be done to prevent violence in the workplace?
The most important component of any prevention program is management commitment. Management commitment is best communicated in a written policy. The policy should:Be developed by management and employee representatives, including the health and safety committee or representative, and union, if present. Apply to management, employee's, clients, independent contractors and anyone who has a relationship with your company. Define what you mean by workplace violence, harassment and bullying in precise, concrete language. Provide clear examples of unacceptable behaviour and working conditions. State in clear terms your organization's view toward workplace violence and harassment, and its commitment to prevention. Precisely state the consequences of making threats or committing violent acts. Outline the process by which preventive measures will be developed. Encourage reporting of all incidents, including reports from witnesses. Outline the confidential process by which employees can report incidents and to whom. Assure no reprisals will be made against reporting employees. Outline the procedures for resolving or investigating incidents or complaints. Describe how information about potential risks will be communicated to employees. Make a commitment to provide support services to victims of violence. Offer a confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to allow employees to seek help. Make a commitment to fulfill the prevention training needs of different levels of personnel within the organization. Make a commitment to monitor and regularly review the policy. State applicable regulatory requirements.
What are some advantages of having a written policy about workplace violence, harassment and other unacceptable behaviour?
A written policy will inform employees about: What behaviour (e.g., violence, intimidation, bullying, harassment, etc.) management considers inappropriate and unacceptable in the workplace. What to do when incidents covered by the policy occur. Contacts for reporting any incidents. The procedure that will be followed when an incident is reported. It will also encourage employees to report such incidents and will show that management is committed to dealing with incidents involving violence, harassment and other unacceptable behaviour.
What are some examples of preventive measures?
Preventive measures generally fall into three categories, workplace design, administrative practices and work practices.
Workplace design considers factors such as workplace lay-out, use of signs, locks or physical barriers, lighting, and electronic surveillance. Building security is one instance where workplace design issues are very important. For example, you should consider: Positioning the office furniture, reception area or sales or service counter so that it is visible to fellow employees or members of the public passing by. Positioning office furniture so that the employee is closer to a door or exit than the client and so that the employee cannot be cornered. Installing surveillance cameras in the public spaces of the workplace, such as entrances, parking lots, waiting rooms, etc. Installing physical barriers, e.g. pass-through windows or bullet-proof enclosures. Minimizing the number of entrances to your workplace. Using coded cards or keys to control access to the building or certain areas within the building. Using adequate exterior lighting around the workplace and near entrances. Strategically placing fences to control access to the workplace. Administrative practices are decisions you make about how you do business. For example, certain administrative practices can reduce the risks involved in handling cash. You should consider: Keeping cash register funds to a minimum. Using electronic payment systems to reduce the amount of cash available. Varying the time of day that you empty or reduce funds in the cash register. Installing and using a locked drop safe. Arranging for regular cash collection by a licensed security firm. Keeping other valuables safely stored and secure, such as firearms, tools, opiates, medicines, etc. Administrative practices may also include education and training for employees. This education and training would include not only information about the workplace's policy and process to respond to incidents, but may also include: Civility and respect. How to respond to customers or members of the pubic who may be angry or frustrated, such as how to de-escalate a conflict. How to respond to an incident of violence (e.g., emergency response, when to contact security or police, etc.). Knowledge about discrimination, family violence, diversity and cultures. How to respond to those persons who may be impaired. Work practices include all the things you do while you are doing the job. They may include management functions such as making sure the performance evaluation process is fair and transparent, or “checking in” with employees to determine their workload or stress level. People, who work away from a traditional office setting, for example those working from home, salepeople, real estate agents or home care providers, can adopt many different work practices that will reduce their risk. For example, Prepare a daily work plan, so that you and others know where and when you are expected somewhere. Identify a designated contact at the office and a back-up. Keep your designated contact informed of your location and consistently adhere to the call-in schedule. Check the credentials of clients. Use the """"buddy system"""", especially when you feel your personal safety may be threatened. DO NOT enter any situation or location where you feel threatened or unsafe.
Is there specific workplace violence prevention legislation?
Yes, all jurisdictions in Canada have legislation specific to harassment and violence (note that the legislation in the Yukon will be in force in September 2021). Please see the OSH Answers on Violence and Harassment in the Workplace – Legislation for more details. Contact your local authorities in your jurisdiction for specific information."""