Ministry of Labour: Protecting Workers from Workplace Harrassement
Amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), which will strengthen protection for workers from workplace violence and address harassment at work, will come into force on June 15, 2010. These amendments will apply to all workplaces to which OHSA currently applies.
NEW DUTIES FOR EMPLOYERS
The amendments to the OHSA, which will come into force in June 2010, define workplace violence and workplace
harassment and describe employer duties.
▪ the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause
physical injury to the worker,
▪ an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker,
▪ 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 could cause physical injury to the worker.
▪ 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.
Policies and programs
i) prepare policies with respect to workplace violence and workplace harassment,
ii) develop and maintain programs to implement their policies, and
iii) provide information and instruction to workers on the contents of these policies and programs.
Workplace violence and workplace harassment programs must include measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence/harassment and set out how the employer will investigate and deal with incidents or complaints. The workplace violence program would also include measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur, and measures and procedures to control risks identified in the assessment of risks.
Assessment: Employers must proactively assess the risks of workplace violence that may arise from the nature
of the workplace, the type or work or the conditions of work. Measures and procedures to control these risks must
be included in the workplace violence program.
Domestic violence: Employers who are aware–or who ought reasonably to be aware–that domestic violence
may occur in the workplace must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker(s)
who is at risk of physical injury.
Communication: Employers and supervisors must provide information to a worker–including personal
information–about a risk of workplace violence from a person(s) with a history of violent behaviour if the worker
can be expected to encounter that person in the course of work, and if the risk of workplace violence is likely to
expose the worker to physical injury. No more personal information shall be disclosed than is reasonably
necessary to protect the worker(s) from physical injury.
Work refusal: Workers will have the right to refuse work if they have reason to believe that workplace violence is
likely to endanger them. The limited right to refuse for certain workers continues. Reprisals by the employer
continue to be prohibited.
Enforcement: Ministry of Labour (MOL) health and safety inspectors will enforce the new OHSA provisions
regarding workplace violence and workplace harassment when the amendments come into force on June 15,
2010, and will determine if employers are complying with their duties. (Police should continue to be contacted first in emergency situations, and to investigate threats of, or actual physical violence that occur at a workplace. Police will determine what, if any, charges should be laid under the Criminal Code.)
Resources and tools for employers workplace parties
- A Guide to Requirements in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) Regarding Workplace Violence
and Harassment: An MOL compliance guideline for workplace parties (employer, worker, Joint Health and
Safety Committee member, health and safety representative, other) to assist in determining how to comply
with the amendments to the OHSA regarding workplace violence and workplace harassment.
- Resource materials are being developed by the ministry and its occupational health and safety system
partners to provide employers with guidance on assessing workplace violence risks and developing workplace
violence and workplace harassment policies and programs.
- Revised MOL Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- The MOL web site will be updated regularly with information and links leading up to the amendments coming into force on June 15, 2010.
- Ontario’s occupational health and safety system partners (Health and Safety Associations) are posting new
resources and training programs, products and services regarding workplace violence and workplace
harassment on their web sites.
Ministry of Labour
Bill 168: News Release and Backgrounder
Read the full text of Bill 168
Health and Safety Associations (HSAs) provide training programs, products and services to Ontario’s employers