Policy Statement

The City of Toronto is committed to working with its employees to provide a safe work environment. The City will not tolerate any acts of violence and will take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent violence and protect employees from acts of violence. Appropriate remedial, disciplinary, and/or legal action will be taken according to the circumstances.

Purpose of Workplace Violence Policy

This policy is supported by the Guidelines for Implementing the Workplace Violence Policy, a Workplace Violence and Threat Report form, a Supervisor Checklist for Workplace Violence, and an information sheet. The policy and its supporting guidelines are intended to:

  1. Maintain a work environment free from workplace violence
  2. Provide a definition of workplace violence
  3. Identify the responsibilities of the workplace parties to maintain a workplace free of actual, attempted or threatened violence
  4. Establish measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurs or is likely to occur
  5. Establish measures and procedures for workers to report incidents of workplace violence and for the City to investigate and deal with incidents or complaints immediately
  6. Provide guidance to divisions on establishing their Workplace Violence program

Application

The Workplace Violence policy applies under any circumstances in which City employees experience workplace violence, as defined below. It applies to all employees, contractors of the City, volunteers, students, clients of City services, any person engaged in business with the City, and visitors to City properties.

The City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy should be consulted regarding issues of personal harassment and harassment related to discrimination and inequitable work practices.

Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, violence includes:

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
  • the exercise of physical force by a person against another person, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker that could cause physical injury to the worker
  • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

The City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy addresses harassment or intimidation (e.g., behaviours that demean, embarrass, or humiliate and are known or would be expected to be unwelcome).

Responsibilities

All employees are responsible for preventing and reporting acts of violence that threaten or perceive to threaten a safe work environment.

Divisional senior management will ensure that:

  • A divisional workplace violence program is established
  • Reasonable preventative measures are undertaken to protect employees and others in City workplaces from workplace violence
  • Take reasonable preventative measures to protect employees and others in City workplaces from workplace violence
  • Ensure that a process for centralized tracking and review of workplace violence incidents is established and implemented
  • Ensure that workplace violence risk assessments are completed, reviewed, revised when needed and reported
  • Post this policy in a conspicuous location in each workplace
  • Establish and maintain a process for reporting and responding to incidents of violence
  • Ensure that the process for reporting and responding to incidents of violence is communicated, maintained and followed
  • Ensure that this policy is reviewed at least annually

Managers/supervisors will:

  • Understand and uphold the principles of this policy
  • Communicate this policy and its guidelines to all employees
  • Conduct workplace violence risk assessments to determine whether the nature of the workplace, the type of work or conditions of work may place employees at risk of violence
  • Consult with Joint Health & Safety Committees (JHSCs)/OHS Representatives, assigned People, Equity & Human Rights (PEHR) /divisional health & safety staff , and where appropriate, Corporate Security, in conducting risk assessments, and develop practical measures and procedures to control identified risks
  • Take all reasonable and practical measures to minimize or eliminate risks identified through the risk assessment process, workplace inspections, or the occurrence of a workplace violence incident
  • Review risk assessments at least annually, as well as when there are changes to the nature of the workplace, the type of work or the conditions of work. Revise the assessment, as needed
  • Conduct further risk assessments when an increase in the number or severity of workplace violence incidents is noted to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to minimize or eliminate risks
  • Communicate the results of workplace violence risk assessments and measures to minimize or eliminate risks to staff.
  • Provide results of risk assessments (initial and updated) to joint health and safety committees/health and safety representatives
  • Maintain and follow the process in the City’s Investigation and Reporting of Work-Related Injuries and Incidents policy for reporting, investigating, documenting, and debriefing incidents of violence
  • Respond promptly when an employee reports being subjected to, witnessing, having knowledge of workplace violence or having reason to believe that workplace violence may occur and take appropriate action.
  • Address immediately all incidents of workplace violence, and not condone or permit any behaviour contrary to this policy. Exceptions to this must be clearly defined in the divisional procedures, describing specific behaviours that are unacceptable (e.g., unacceptable behaviours among a specific client group such as young children or clients with developmental, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities). This exception must be communicated to staff but must not condone behaviours contrary to this policy.
  • Ensure that all known incidents of workplace violence are investigated. To the extent appropriate based on the nature of each incident and the actual or potential threat it posed to worker safety:
    • consult with other parties (e.g., Corporate Security, Health & Safety staff, JHSCs/OHS Representatives, Employee Health and Rehabilitation, Employee Assistance Program, Human Rights Office, Toronto Police Services)
    • take all reasonable and practical measures to minimize or address risks identified by the incident
    • document the incident, its investigation, and corrective action taken
    • promptly share the results of the investigation and corrective actions taken with the joint health and safety committee/health and safety representative and the workers involved in the incident
  • Ensure workers are made aware of their rights to:
    • have workplace violence incidents investigated when they are reported
    • report incidents of physical assault or threats of physical assault to the police
    • support from management when reporting incidents of physical assault or threats of physical assault to the police (e.g. time for interactions with the police and making accessible to the police information in the employer’s possession with respect to the incident)
  • Take all reasonable and practical measures to protect workers, acting in good faith, who report workplace violence or act as witnesses, from reprisal or further violence
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for worker protection if they become aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in the workplace
  • Review annually, in conjunction with review of risk assessments, the effectiveness of actions taken to minimize or eliminate workplace violence and make improvements to divisional procedures, as required
  • Provide information to workers, including appropriate personal information, related to a risk of workplace violence from a person with a history of violent behaviour
  • Provide workers with information and instruction appropriate for the worker on the City’s workplace violence policy and program

People, Equity & Human Rights (PEHR)/ Divisional Occupational Health and Safety staff will:

  • Assist management to implement this policy, develop divisional procedures, and initiate the annual review of the policy and guidelines

Joint Health and Safety Committees/OHS Representatives will:

  • Review the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment results and provide recommendations to management to reduce or eliminate the risk of violence
  • Review all reports forwarded to the JHSC regarding workplace violence and other incident reports as appropriate pertaining to incidents of workplace violence that result in personal injury or threat of personal injury, property damage, or police involvement
  • Participate in the investigation of critical injuries (e.g., incidents that place life in jeopardy, result in substantial blood loss, fracture of leg or arm, etc.)
  • Recommend corrective measures for the improvement of the health and safety of workers
  • Respond to employee concerns related to workplace violence and communicate these to management
  • Participate in the review of the policy and guidelines for continuous improvement

In addition, JHSCs/OHS Representatives may participate in the investigation of reported incidents that result in personal injury or have the potential to result in injury.

The Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee will:

  • Review annually the effectiveness of the policy and guidelines and make changes as required by consulting with management staff and employee representatives

All employees will:

  • Maintain a safe work environment, whenever possible
  • Not engage in or ignore violent, threatening, intimidating or other disruptive behaviours
  • Report promptly and provide details to their supervisor (or the appropriate alternative listed in the attached guidelines) any incident where the employee is subjected to, witnesses, or has knowledge of workplace violence, or has reason to believe that workplace violence may occur

Reprisal

This policy prohibits reprisals against individuals, acting in good faith, who report incidents of workplace violence or act as witnesses. Management will take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent reprisals, threats of reprisal, or further violence. Reprisal is defined as any act of retaliation, either direct or indirect.

Authorities

Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario (current)
Criminal Code of Canada (current)
City of Toronto Corporate Occupational Health and Safety Policy (reviewed annually)

Previous Versions

February 18, 2002
March 25, 2010
February 28, 2012
December 5, 2012
September 16, 2014
February 10, 2016
December 6, 2016
September 27, 2017
OHSCC-endorsed and City Manager-approved

Endorsed by:

Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee (OHSCC), October 30, 2001
Reviewed and re-endorsed by OHSCC, September 27, 2017

Guidelines

Guidelines for Implementing the Workplace Violence Policy

Effective

January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019

Approved by

City Manager

Date Approved

February 4, 2013

Reviewed and re-approved by OHSCC

December 12, 2018

 

Related information

Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy
City of Toronto Corporate Occupational Health and Safety Policy
Investigation and Reporting of Work-Related Injuries and Incidents Policy
Guidelines for Implementing the Workplace Violence Policy

Related links

The Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario
Criminal Code of Canada