Workplace Violence

Workplace violence can include threatening behaviour, verbal or written threats, physical assaults or other actions that give a worker a reason to believe they are at risk of injury.

Violence can happen in any workplace. Due to the nature of work, the risk of workplace violence is greater in industries such as health care, service and retail. It can happen at the worksite or at an off-site business-related function (conference, trade show), at a client’s site or in a vehicle.

There are many ways to reduce the risk of workplace violence, including:

  • Conduct a risk assessment to identify risk factors specific to the workplace.
  • Eliminate the risks or replace with less hazardous options where possible.
  • Identify, prioritize and implement controls if you cannot eliminate the risk.
  • Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan (include provisions for working alone).
  • Ensure emergency response plans are in place and are current.
  • Train employees on how to prevent workplace violence.
  • Evaluate and monitor controls to ensure legislative responsibilities have been met and controls remain effective.

Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment means inappropriate vexatious conduct or comment by a person to a worker that the person knew or ought to have known would cause the worker to be humiliated, offended or intimidated. Harassment may happen only once or repeatedly. It may be intended or unintended; written, verbal, physical, a gesture or display, or any combination of these. 

Harassment can take place in the workplace or in a situation connected to work. It can include electronic messages to a person or social media posts.

Examples of harassing behaviour may include:

  • Unwelcome conduct, comments, gestures or contact which causes offense or humiliation
  • Misusing power or authority when there is no real work purpose
  • Deliberately mis-gendering by referring to a person using terms or pronouns that do not align with the person’s affirmed gender
  • Physical or psychological bullying which creates fear or mistrust or which ridicules or devalues the individual
  • Excluding, intimidating or isolating individuals
  • Making inappropriate gestures/comments
  • Making inappropriate sexual advances
  • Discriminating based on gender
  • Cyber bullying such as posting offensive or intimidating messages through social media or e-mail
  • Deliberately setting the individual up to fail

To reduce the risk of workplace harassment, employers are responsible to develop a Harassment Prevention Plan. See our guide below for more information.