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Step 1: Recognize the Hazard of Workplace Violence

  • Issued: April 21, 2010
  • Content last reviewed: June 2013
  • PDF VersionPDF [ 2.27 Mb / 40 pages | Download Adobe Reader ]
  • DISCLAIMER: The material contained in this document is for information and reference purposes only and is not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption of the practices described in this document may not meet all the needs, requirements, or obligations of individual workplaces.

STEPS:
Arrow Running from Last Step Back to First Step
Arrow Pointing To First Step Recognize Right Arrow Leading to Next Step Assess Right Arrow Leading to Next Step Control Right Arrow Leading to Next Step Monitor and Evaluate
  Arrow Pointing Down to Step Details 
 
  1. Learn Your Legal Responsibilities
  2. Collect Workplace Information
  3. Collect Community Information
  4. Collect Information about Similar Workplaces
 

The first step in the process is to find out more about the hazard of workplace violence in your workplace, your community, and in similar workplaces.

It is recommended that workers, supervisors, joint health and safety committees, health and safety representatives, and/or unions be involved in this stage.

Learn Your Legal Responsibilities

Be sure you know your responsibilities as they relate to protecting workers from workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other legislation. See page 6 for more information.

The collective agreement(s) in your workplace may also have provisions about workplace violence.

Collect Workplace Information

You can find out more about the risks of workplace violence by looking at your workplace information. Here are some specific steps that may help you decide how violence might affect your workplace as a whole, in specific locations, or in specific jobs:

Input from Workers and Management

You can use information gathered through a survey, a focus group, or the joint health and safety committee to help you:

  • identify the risks that workers perceive and their sense of personal safety in the workplace;
  • consider workers’ experiences of violence and whether the situations involved strangers, clients, workers, or others;
  • identify jobs or locations in which workplace violence is a concern; and,
  • gather opinions about the effectiveness of the measures, procedures, and training currently in place.

See the Toolbox for a sample survey.

Internal Workplace Information

Review internal documents for reports of incidents involving workplace violence. Look for trends and identify jobs and locations that are most at risk.

You may also wish to review incidents of harassment at this time. Consider looking at the makeup of your workforce to identify whether there are workers who would be more vulnerable to violence (for example, women, youth, persons with disabilities, or someone who may be the target of discrimination or hate crime).

Sources of information include:

  • employee feedback from company "suggestion boxes";
  • security logs;
  • reports about emergencies, incidents and accidents;
  • the minutes from joint health and safety committee meetings;
  • workplace inspection reports;
  • reports generated through collective agreements;
  • high-level Employee Assistance Program usage reports (which do not identify individuals);
  • grievances; or,
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims.

Existing Policies, Procedures, and Work Practices

Gather your existing collective agreements and occupational health and safety and human resources policies, procedures, and work practices to find out whether workplace violence is addressed, and how. Remember to look for specific procedures that may relate to particular jobs.

Collect Community Information

Community Workplace Violence Issues

You can find some information about crime levels in the community that surrounds your workplace:

  • Contact the local (municipal) police department or local Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment to ask if they have information about the risks and incidents of violence in your neighbourhood. Ask about available statistical information, such as the number of calls for assistance, the levels of crime, the charges laid, etc.
  • Contact Statistics Canada. Obtain a copy of its Crime Statistics in Canada reports, which are based on information from each police service in the country.
  • Keep up with local news stories relating to violence in your community or your business sector.
  • Contact insurance companies and real estate brokers to obtain information about the prevalence of theft and/or property damage in the area.

Collect Information about Similar Workplaces

Workplace Violence Issues in Similar Workplaces

You may be able to find out more about workplace violence risks in your workplace by looking at similar workplaces, which may face similar risks.

Communicate with similar companies, agencies, and organizations about their experiences with workplace violence.

The health and safety association for your type of workplace will have information that will help you. See the Resources section for contact information.

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