You might not have heard about Bill 168 yet, but businesses in Ontario will be hearing a lot about this amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act in 2010. The Bill, which just received Royal Assent and will go into law on June 15th, defines and addresses workplace violence and harassment. Though many of us haven’t experience violence in the workplace, it did account for 17% of violence in Canada in 2004.
This new law will give businesses (with more than 5 employees) a few tasks to complete in order to be compliant. So here are the top 5 things Employers need to know about Bill 168:
- Definition: with the bill comes formal definition of workplace violence and harassment, which gives the OHSA some teeth on the subject. Implication: Employers will need OHSA compliant policies, have them posted and formally reviewed at least annually.
- Assess the Risk: Employers will need to conduct risk assessments for violence and harassment in the workplace, share the results with the Joint H&S committee, and re-assess “as often as is necessary.” Implication: This is paperwork you definitely want in the office to protect your business in the future.
- You need a program to measure and control risks, a published process to request immediate assistance, report and investigate incidents or complaints in the workplace. Implication: Employers need to document how they will monitor and handle risks and incidents, and of course follow the program in the event of violence or harassment.
- Precautions: Become educated about domestic violence, and able to recognize the signs, and learn appropriate ways to help and respond. This applies to any place an employee works, except in their personal homes though you probably need to pay attention. Implication: Employers cannot turn a blind-eye to any warning signs. Note: this part of the Bill is a little murky, so its an area we’ll be watching closely.
- Inform: Employers will need to inform and instruct employees about the policy, program, and provide information related to a risk of violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour. Implication: Once the policy and program are ready to be implemented, get the staff together to inform and discuss.
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