Workplace Violence and Prevention

Effective November 1st WorkSafe BC has new workplace policies and guidelines Workplace Violenceregarding Workplace Violence Prevention. Employers are expected to develop a policy regarding workplace violence and bullying. When we think of workplace violence we often recall extreme examples where a worker has entered the workplace with a weapon and inflicted harm on co-workers due to work related incidents. Yes that is an example of workplace violence but there are many many others that never make the headlines. These may be subtle acts that still have a devastating impact on the lives of the victims and in some cases have pushed them to take their own lives.

Workplace violence can take many forms including physical violence, threats, harassment or intimidation from employees, visitors, contractors, patients, clients or anyone else the worker interacts with in the workplace.

Workplace violence may be triggered by incidents inside or outside the workplace. A broken relationship, road rage incident in the parking lot, dispute over a promotion, racial prejudices or personal biases, whatever the cause, workplace violence should not be tolerated.

Most people think of violence as a physical assault. However, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment. Workplace violence includes:

* threatening behaviour – such as shaking fists, destroying property or throwing objects.
* verbal or written threats – any expression of an intent to inflict harm.
* harassment – any behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person and that is known or would be expected to be unwelcome. This includes words, gestures, intimidation, bullying, or other inappropriate activities.
* verbal abuse – swearing, insults or condescending language.
* physical attacks – hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking.

Rumours, swearing, verbal abuse, pranks, arguments, property damage, vandalism, sabotage, pushing, theft, physical assaults, psychological trauma, anger-related incidents, rape, arson and murder are all examples of workplace violence.

Workplace violence is not limited to incidents that occur within a traditional workplace. Work-related violence can occur at off-site business-related functions (conferences, trade shows), at social events related to work, in clients’ homes or away from work but resulting from work (i.e. a threatening telephone call to your home from a client).

To help employers and employees gain a better understanding of the effect and solutions to workplace violence we have made available an online training course called Workplace Violence Awareness and Prevention (Canada). This 100% online course will take approximately 45 minutes to complete and will provide an understanding of the warning signs as well a solutions for Workplace Violence prevention and response. On successful completion of the course, you will be awarded with a certificate as confirmation that you have completed training. You can see a short preview of the training by visiting the link above.


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