Harassment and violence are workplace hazards and can originate from anyone in the workplace and be directed at anyone. Domestic violence becomes a workplace hazard when it occurs or spills over into the workplace. It may put the targeted worker at risk and may pose a threat to co-workers. It can be subtle or overt. Abuse may be deliberate or unintended. The test is whether a reasonable person knows, or ought to know, that the behaviour would be considered unwelcome or inappropriate by the recipient. It may be a single event or may involve a continuing series of incidents. It may involve the abuse of authority or station, or it may involve the workers and affiliated personnel. Abuse can victimize both men and woman, and may be directed by or towards workers, clients, and members of the public.
Workplace Violence and Harassment
The Alberta OHS Act defines harassment as any single incident or repeated incidents of objectionable or unwelcome conduct, comments, bullying, physical and psychological harm, including sexual and domestic violence or action by a person that the person knows or ought reasonably to know will or would cause offence or humiliation to a worker, or adversely affects the worker’s health and safety and include behaviours such as:
Employers must ensure that workers are instructed in:
Recognizing the Problem of Workplace Violence and Harassment
Many employers are recognizing the existence of workplace violence and harassment and developing solutions and strategies to address the problem. An increase in awareness is usually accompanied by a decrease in tolerance for incidents of abuse. As a company our employees need to be aware of policies and procedures that are put in place to protect them from any incident involving violence or harassment.
Extent of the Problem
Violence and harassment in the workplace can seriously compromise a work environment. For the victim, abuse can result in anger, depression, guilt, self-doubt, anxiety, and Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder type symptoms. Abuse can be as damaging for other workers at the workplace as it is for the victim. Workers may no longer feel safe or comfortable at work. This may lead to lost productivity and decreased work performance. Overall worker morale may drop, and the employer’s reputation may be jeopardized.
Any person who believes they have been subjected to violence or harassment has the right to access assistance in producing a statement, communicating their objections and, if warranted, in pursing the compliant more formally.
The hazard assessment and control process is a documented approach to prevent work-related illness or injury. We will use this process to identify situations brought forward that could put workers at risk of harassment or violence at our workplace. Recognizing these real and potential hazards, employers can take steps to eliminate or control them to prevent harm to workers.
A team approach is necessary when doing hazard assessments. The employer must involve the joint work site health and safety committee (HSC) or health and safety (HSR) representative, when applicable. If your work site is exempt from having a committee or representative, the employer must involve workers affected by the hazards. In addition, we will ensure that all workers who may be affected by the potential hazards are familiar with the necessary procedures or precautions to keep themselves and others healthy and safe on the job.
When incidents of violence and harassment occur am initiate a formal hazard assessment and incident investigation must be completed.
Victims who have been involved in a violent act must be debriefed shortly after the incident. Workers must understand that that they are not to blame for aggressive behaviours directed at them and that being the victim of abuse does not reflect on their professional competence.
Victims require emotional support and reassurance. They need information about their rights and options. In situations where this type of act occurs, the company will be supportive in referring workers to the professional help that they may require in order to deal with the incident and ensure their confident in returning back to the workplace.
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