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Violence & Harassment

Violence & harassment

What is workplace violence and harassment?

Everyone should be able to work in a safe and healthy workplace. A workplace free of violence and harassment is about creating an environment where workers feel comfortable.

When we think of workplace violence and harassment, we general think of the following:

  • physical force by one person against another,
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker,
  • unwelcomed sexual advances and suggestive language,
  • threat or interpretation of physical or physiological harm
  • engaging in comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression

Here’s what we know

Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as "engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker, in a workplace, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome."

How workplace violence or harassment can affect your business

Everyone should be able to work and feel safe at work. A workplace free of violence and harassment is about creating an environment where workers feel comfortable. 

When we think of workplace violence and harassment, we generally think of the following:

  • physical force by one person against another,
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker,
  • unwelcomed sexual advances and suggestive language,
  • threat or interpretation of physical or physiological harm 
  • engaging in comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression

Here's what we know

Workplace harassment is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as "engaging in the course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker, in a workplace, that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome."

How workplace violence or harassment can affect your business

The threat of workplace violence or harassment poisons your work environment. It hurts a business financially because of the costs of violence-related injuries, which could include: 

  • government fines,
  • undermines company culture,
  • disrupted work,
  • decreased productivity. 

What's more, it affects your relationship with your employees and can damage your company's reputation with your clients, recruitment efforts and employee retention.

What can you do?

Your best defence against violence and harassment in the workplace is initial and ongoing training.

As a business owner, you should have a policy to prevent workplace violence and harassment and have programs in place that carry out this policy.

  • Assess the risks of workplace violence based on the nature of the workplace and type of work.
  • Develop measures and procedures to control the risks
  • If you're aware of the potential for domestic violence, take reasonable precautions to protect workers who are at risk of physical injury
  • Alert individual workers to the risk of workplace violence from persons with a history of violent behaviour