Presentation on theme: "WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: LEGAL OBLIGATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES"— Presentation transcript:
1WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: LEGAL OBLIGATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES November 30, 2005Health Care Health and Safety Association of OntarioEric M. RoherPartnerBorden Ladner Gervais LLPphone:
2What is Workplace Violence? “Any action, act, omission or incident in which an employee or worker is abused, threatened, harmed, injured or assaulted arising out of his or her employment or work … ”Norman KeithCanadian Health and Safety Law
3What is Workplace Violence? (continued) “Any act of aggression that causes physical or emotional harm, including assault (any attempt to inflict physical harm on a worker), threat, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and racial or religious harassment.”Ontario Public Service Employees Union
4Violence includes: Assault (threat or injury) Battery (unlawful force) Threats (intent to harm)Sexual harassment (unwelcome advances)Verbal abuseOntario Nurses’ Association
5Violence also includes: Name-callingSwearingHittingBiting, scratching and pinchingUsing a weaponBritish Columbia Nurses’ Union
6Statistics and TrendsMore than ½ of Registered Nurses have been physically assaulted in the workplace.Study from the Registered Nurses’Associations in Manitoba and Ontario
7Statistics and Trends (continued) Of 400 Nurses surveyed, 63% had experienced verbal abuse in the past year.35% experienced attempts at physical harm.21% had been victims of physical attack.Nova Scotia Study
8Statistics and Trends (continued) Of 800 Ontario Nurses surveyed, 59% had been physically assaulted on the job in their career.35% in 12 months prior to the survey.Ontario Nurses’ Association, 1995
9Statistics and Trends (continued) Younger clinicians and nurses are more often the target of client aggression, due to limited experience and lack of training.Health care workers face similar level of risk to that of police.(Boyd 1995)
10Common Law Principles Negligence. Duty of care, breach, causation, and damages.Protect individuals from reasonably foreseeable risks of injury.Legal principles inform violence prevention and emergency response strategies.
11Burden of ProofBurden of proof is on the plaintiff to show, on the balance of probabilities, that the defendant did not meet the standard of care of a reasonable person in given circumstances.
12Elements of Negligence Defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.Defendant breached the duty of care.Defendant’s breach was cause of plaintiff’s injury.Plaintiff suffered actual damage or loss as a result of the injury.
13ForeseeabilityKey in determination of whether an employer had legal responsibility to take action.Not only what an employer knew, but also what it ought to have known.Employer took reasonable steps to reduce risk of injury/accident.
14Applicable Legislation Occupational Health and Safety ActWorkplace Safety and Insurance ActOntario Human Rights CodeCompensation for Victims of Crime ActRegulated Health Professions ActCriminal Code (Canada)
15Laws established Violence is unacceptable. Offenders are liable for their actions.Victims or relatives may be compensated for injuries resulting from an act of violence.Duties and responsibilities for all workplace parties.
16Occupational Health and Safety Act The OHSA came into force in 1979.Designed to set administrative, legal procedural standards for health and safety in Ontario’s workplaces.Achieves these ends through an “internal responsibility system.”Places responsibility for health and safety on the stakeholders by creating duties for employers, supervisors and workers.
17OHSA – Employer’s Duties Employer shall provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect his/her health and safety – s.25(2)(a).Employer must take every reasonable precaution under the circumstances for a worker’s protection – s.25(2)(h).
18OHSA – Employer’s Duties (continued) Employer must prepare and review, at least annually, a written occupational health and safety policy.Must develop and maintain a program to implement that policy – s.25(2)(j).
19OHSA – Supervisor’s Duties Supervisor shall advise a worker of any potential or actual danger to the worker’s health and safety of which the supervisor is aware – s.27(2)(a).Supervisor shall provide a worker with written instructions about protective measures and procedures – s.27(2)(b).Supervisor shall take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances for the worker’s protection – s.27(2)(c).
20OHSA – Worker’s DutiesWorkers are required to report to his or her employer or supervisor the existence of any hazard – s.28(1)(d).The requirement is interpreted to include any threat of violence or presence of a violent person.
21Ministry of Labour - Inspectors Have the authority to issue work orders and stop-work orders.Have exercised this authority when they deem that a hazard exists because of inadequate staffing levels.Will determine if employee has been provided suitable training and policies to protect from workplace violence.
22AdjudicatorsHave ruled that health care workers are entitled to information about aggressive or violent clients.Have ruled that employers must provide adequate staffing levels as a protective measure.
23Risk of ViolenceWhere inspectors determine that workers are exposed to a risk of violence, will direct the employer:to address the riskto assure appropriate workplace program is implementedthat the joint health and safety committee be consulted in workplace violence prevention program
24Ontario Human Rights Code Harassment is a prohibited activity under the Code.Employee has a right to freedom from harassment in the workplace because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or handicap.
25Human Rights Code Harassment is defined as: “engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably known to be unwelcome.”Harassment includes inappropriate comments, jokes or suggestions.Sexual harassment includes unwanted touching.
26Human Rights Code (continued) Employers must prevent or stop harassment in the workplace.Workers have a right to file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.Employers cannot penalize a worker who has filed a complaint.
27Criminal Code Assault is determined as: Intentional application of force to another person without that person’s consent.Includes attempts or threats to use force, including gestures that imply a serious threat.
28Criminal Code (continued) If the police lay a charge under the Criminal Code, the Crown Attorney will prosecute the case.The victim will be called as a witness.Standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
29Risk ManagementRisk management is the process of planning, organizing and controlling activities that contain an element of risk of injury to the worker.
30Risk Management involves the following steps: Identify and assess exposures to injury.Identify various risk management strategies to address these exposures.Select and implement the appropriate strategy or strategies.Monitor results and make improvements where necessary.
31Health workers are especially at risk when: working alone, especially at nightinteracting with violent clientsdealing with public complaintsproviding care and advice that impact on a client’s lifehandling money or medications
32Other practices that increase vulnerability to violence: understaffing in busy clinics or emergency departmentsletting staff work alone with clientshaving staff work at night in high crime areasfailing to provide sufficient trainingfailing to provide communication devices
33Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Program 1. Obtain management commitment and employee involvement.2. Develop a policy, with clear goals and objectives.3. Conduct a worksite risk assessment.
34Develop a Workplace Violence Prevention Program (continued) 4. Put violence prevention, control and response measures in place.5. Educate employees about the program and train them.6. Evaluate the program and procedures.
35Environmental Design Provide a calm atmosphere. Ensure furniture can not be used as a weapon.Keep areas well lighted.Maintain secured areas where public access is limited.Eliminate overcrowding in psychiatric facilities.Install and use security systems.
36Program ObjectivesDevelop a policy of “zero tolerance” for workplace violence.Describe the standard of behaviour expected of all persons in the workplace.Provide a mechanism that encourages employees to report all incidents promptly.Develop a plan for maintaining security.
37Program Objectives (continued) Develop understood and communicated sanctions for violent acts.Train workers regarding the forms of workplace violence, its effects and how to prevent it.Provide for a procedure to review incident reports.Continually re-evaluate existing safety procedures.
38ConclusionTo create major changes in the workplace, the organization needs:a sense of urgency;a guiding coalition; andvision and strategy.
39Conclusion (continued) Commitment of the employer to make workplace violence prevention a priority.Organization’s management team must recognize the need to change.Overall will and allocation of resources to create a workplace violence prevention program and communicate it to stakeholders.
40“Someone has to do it and it is appallingly pathetic that it has to be us.”Jerry Garcia
41Thank You! Lawyers • Patent and Trade-mark Agents