What Employers Need to Know

What is Bill 168?

On June 15th, 2010 the province of Ontario enacted Bill 168, an amendment to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA), prescribing strict new mandatory standards aimed at reducing the risk of violence and harassment in the workplace. The new law applies to all Ontario workplaces with 5 or more employees that fall under the jurisdiction of the OHSA.

Bill 168 is the most comprehensive, far-reaching workplace violence legislation in Canada. Failure to comply with the provisions of the new law can lead to serious financial and reputational harm, not just for organizations but also for Company Officers, Directors and line management staff.

How are Violence and Harassment in the Workplace Defined?

The definition of workplace violence under Bill 168 is broader than that used in many other contexts. It extends beyond overt acts of violence to incorporate some types of threat. Similarly, the definition of workplace harassment moves beyond the existing Human Rights Code to incorporate bullying or psychological harassment, threats or intimidation, and harassment based on any protected ground under human rights law.

Why is Workplace Violence Prevention Important?

Statistics suggest that 1 in 5 violent incidents in Canada occurs at work; 20 percent of workplace violence incidents result in physical injury; and 25% of victims find it harder to carry out day-to-day work activities following an incident. Aside from the harm to employees, it is not uncommon for organizations to be held negligent under the law following an incident of workplace violence.

Who is at Risk From Workplace Violence?

Certain types of work or conditions of work can place workers at greater risk of violence . Examples of high risk work sectors identified by Ontario's Ministry of Labour include; Healthcare; Retail; Hospitality; Education; Transportation; Social Services; and Security. The National Institute for Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH) has identified high risk work factors including; direct contact with clients; handling cash; working alone; transporting people/goods; and working with unstable/volatile people.

What Specific Steps Need to be Taken to Comply with Bill 168?

Bill 168 identifies the following key steps that must be taken by Ontario employers:

  1. Perform a workplace violence risk assessment to formally evaluate the risks arising from the nature of the workplace, the type and conditions of work. The assessment should take into account circumstances specific to the workplace and those common in similar workplaces.
  2. Draft a Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Policy that addresses the findings of the risk assessment. It should address violence and harassment from all potential sources (internal/external).
  3. Implement a Workplace Violence and Workplace Harassment Program identifying the steps required to address the workplace risks and conditions identified in the risk assessment.
  4. Address the risks to employees arising from Domestic Violence where the employer is aware, or ought to be aware, that any employee may be exposed to Domestic Violence in the workplace.
  5. Keep records of persons with a violent history and advise employees if they may come into contact with a person who has a violent past within their workplace.
  6. Allow workers to refuse unsafe work where workplace violence is likely to endanger their safety.
  7. Provide training on the Program and Policy to all employees on the contents of the Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy and Program.

How Can We Help You?

David Hyde & Associates are your Bill 168 specialists. We offer a wide range of Bill 168 compliance services to employers of all sizes across all industry sectors. Information on our Bill 168 services is available on this website and/or by contacting us for a no-obligation consultation.

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