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Gender Differences in Injuries Attributed to Workplace Violence in Ontario 2002-2015

In the province of Ontario, an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2010 required employers to assess the risks of workplace violence and harassment in their workplace, and to develop policies and procedures for investigating and handling workplace violence incidents, as well as developing communication and programmes to better protect workers1. Despite the introduction of regulatory requirements to control the risks of workplace violence, the number of injuries attributed to workplace violence has not declined in Canada. There has been a lack of studies on factors associated with workplace violence in Canada.

The aim of this study by Peter Smith from the Institute of Work and Health and colleagues is to compare trends in the incidence of injury between 2002-2015 resulting from workplace violence for men and women in Ontario, Canada2.

Researchers looked at administrative records of injury that were obtained from Ontario’s Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB). Over the period 2002-2015, there were 29 908 lost-time claims registered with the WSIB where the event associated with the claim was an assault or violent act.

Records of non-scheduled emergency department visits where the main problem was attributed to a workplace violence event were also looked at. There were 1 131 797 emergency department visits for the treatment of work-related injury/illness among working age adults. For all of these records the claim rates were stratified separately for men and women.

The analysis conducted demonstrated that male/female differences in workplace violence are increasing in Ontario, driven by an increase in rates of workplace violence among women. The relative risk of injuries attributed to workplace violence for men and women differed across industries, with much of the increase in the risk of injury due to workplace violence for women arising in the education sector.

The evidence from this study highlights the potential for routine injury surveillance to improve understanding of the risk of workplace violence over time. The results of this study indicate the need for further examination of workplace violence within specific labour force subgroups.


  1. Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), 2009, S.O. 2009, c. 23 - Bill 168. 2009.
  2. Chen C, Smith PM, Mustard C (2018). Gender differences in injuries attributed to workplace violence in Ontario 2002–2015. Occupational Environment Med Published Online First: doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105152