The Importance of Bill 168

It seems that every day, we hear about another incident of workplace violence: the daycare shooting in Quebec, the stabbing at a college in Texas, are just two recent examples.

Bill 168 is an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)  which sets out the rights and duties of all those who have a role in dealing with workplace violence and workplace harassment. 

The Bill specifically deals with the Employer’s requirement to establish minimum standards and policies for violence and harassment in the workplace.

Every employer in Ontario is required by the Act to prepare and review, at least annually, a policy and program for both workplace violence and harassment. 

These policies are required regardless of the size of the workplace or the number of workers.

If six or more workers are regularly employed at a workplace, these policies must be in writing and posted in a conspicuous place in the workplace.  

Violence/Harassment in the Workplace Affects Us All.

Workers may face violence and harassment in any workplace and from any person in that workplace. The harassing or violent person may be someone the worker comes into contact with due to the nature of his or her work, such as a client, customer or patient.

The harassing or violent person may also be part of the workforce, including a co-worker, manager, supervisor or employer. Or the person may be someone with no formal connection to the workplace such as a stranger or a domestic/intimate partner who brings violence or harassment into the workplace.

An ongoing pattern of harassing behaviour, or combination of behaviours ranging from offensive remarks to violence may escalate into threats, or acts, of physical violence.

Harassment may also be a matter that falls under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In addition to being punishable under the OHSA, the Criminal Code of Canada also deals with workplace matters such as violent acts, threats and harassing behaviours such as stalking. The police should always be contacted in situations where workplace violence has occurred.

Violence in the workplace affects all workers, not just the “targeted” worker. 

Other employees may feel increased stress when having to avoid the “bully” or deal with personal conflicts associated with bad behaviour.

In some cases, violent acts result in innocent people becoming involved in a conflict, often with negative consequences.