Respect and Safety In The Workplace - Violence Policy

Type: Operational

Target audience: Employees, Volunteers

1.0 Intent

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is committed to the prevention of workplace violence and to providing a safe and healthy work environment.

OTF will take whatever steps are reasonable to protect everyone from workplace violence from all sources. This policy is broad enough to include workplace violence from any persons including co-workers, staff, volunteers, clients, domestic partners and strangers. Violent behaviour in the workplace is unacceptable from anyone and OTF will treat any allegation of violent behaviour as a serious matter.

This policy complements OTF's Occupational Health and Safety Policy.

2.0 Scope

This policy applies to all permanent and contract staff, as well as volunteers of The Ontario Trillium Foundation. This policy complies with OTF's Code of Conduct and Ethics Policy.

3.0 Definitions

The Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (Bill 168, OHSA) sets out the rights and duties for occupational health and safety of all parties in the workplace. Bill 168 has enhanced the protections of workplace violence and harassment from any persons.

Workplace Violence as defined by the OHSA is the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker. It also includes an:

  • Attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; and a
  • Statement or behaviour that a worker could reasonably interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

Examples of Workplace Violence Include:

  • Verbally threatening to attack someone
  • Leaving threatening notes at or sending threatening e-mails to a workplace
  • Shaking a fist in someone's face
  • Wielding a weapon at work
  • Throwing an object at someone
  • Sexual violence against someone
  • Domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence)

The workplace includes, but is not limited to, OTF offices. It is extended to any location where staff and/or volunteers are required to conduct business, including OTF functions, site visits and other activities related to OTF's business.

4.0 Guidelines

To protect staff and volunteers from workplace violence, OTF has a workplace violence program (see 4.1) that implements this policy. It includes measures to protect staff and volunteers from workplace violence, a means of summoning immediate assistance and a process for reporting incidents and raising concerns. OTF will ensure that this policy and supporting program are implemented and maintained and that all staff and volunteers have the appropriate information and instruction to protect them from violence in the workplace.

Summary of Key Roles and Responsibilities 

As noted in Section 2.2 on Occupational Health and Safety, employers, management and staff share the responsibility for occupational health and safety. The shared responsibility concept is founded on the Internal Responsibility System. (IRS) IRS is based on the premise that workplace parties themselves are best to identify health and safety problems and to identify solutions.

Employer's Responsibilities

OTF is responsible for taking every reasonable precaution to ensure the workplace is safe. These responsibilities include:

  • Having measures and procedures to control the risk of workplace violence
  • Investigating and dealing with any incidents or complaints of workplace violence in a fair and timely manner or where appropriate reporting the incident immediately to the authorities.

Management's Responsibilities 

Management is responsible for adhering to this policy and supporting the workplace violence program. They are also responsible for:

  • Taking every reasonable precaution for the protection of staff and volunteers
  • Ensuring that staff and volunteers follow the measures and procedures and that they have the information they need to protect themselves

Staff and Volunteers' Responsibilities
Staff and volunteers are responsible for working in compliance with this policy and supporting program. In addition, Staff and volunteers are encouraged to raise any concerns about workplace violence and to report any violent incidents or threats.

4.1 Procedures for the Prevention of Workplace Violence

OTF has a number of measures and procedures to minimize the risk of workplace violence and to provide a safe and healthy work environment.

Working in collaboration with OTF’s Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC), the following measures that are in place formulate OTF’s Workplace Violence Program:

Risk Assessments 
OTF will conduct appropriate risk assessments to determine the risks of workplace violence that may unlikely arise from conducting the work of the Foundation.

Workplace risk assessments are conducted by the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) and may include workplace surveys, physical inspections, and other appropriate means for obtaining information regarding OTF’s risk of workplace violence.

The JHSC will conduct workplace risk assessments as often as necessary to ensure the continued protection of staff and volunteers. 

Following these risk assessments, the JHSC is responsible for making recommendations on health and safety issues and on programs and measures to improve health and safety.

Measures to Protect Staff and Volunteers

  • Workplace training for staff and volunteers on the workplace violence and harassment policies and programs
  • JHSC risk assessments on the potential for workplace violence (as often as necessary to ensure the continued protection of staff and volunteers)
  • Documented follow up on JHSC risk assessments
  • Specific procedures and/or strategies for emergency situations
  • Procedures for advising staff and volunteers of potentially violent situations or individuals
  • Procedures and training for summoning immediate assistance where appropriate in the workplace
  • Procedures for expediently dealing with an incident or complaint of workplace violence

Reporting Incidents of Workplace Violence

Staff and volunteers are encouraged to raise any concerns about workplace violence and to report any violent incidents or threats to management, Chair of the GRT and/or the Head of Human Resources, immediately.

If an incident of workplace violence is reported, OTF will review safety measures with affected volunteers or staff and implement additional measures, if necessary, to protect the individual/s. As appropriate, OTF may immediately report the incident to authorities and/or conduct an investigation of the incident.

Complaint Process

Staff and volunteers may report a violent incident or concern following the recommended process below or directly to their OTF Ethics Executive Committee Member (CEO for OTF staff and OTF Board Chair for Board and GRT members) See Code of Conduct and Ethics, Appendix A, related to “Disclosure of Wrongdoing” for further information. (under the PSOA) 

  1. Complainants can file a complaint with management, Chair of the GRT and/or the Head of Human Resources.
  2. In the event the complaint alleges the CEO has engaged in a violent incident, the employee shall bring the matter forward to the Chair of the Board of Directors. In the event the employee/volunteer is not comfortable approaching the Board, the matter shall be brought to the Head of Human Resources, who will bring the matter to the Board of Directors.
  3. Human Resources (or an external third party, if appropriate) will promptly investigate the incident. This will include interviews and other means deemed relevant and appropriate to the situation.
  4. Human Resources will prepare a written report to the CEO, summarizing the incident, the response and the results of the investigation, as well as any recommendations deemed appropriate.
  5. The CEO is responsible for considering the report and determining how to best deal with the matter.
  6. Where an incident is substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken, which can include suspension, dismissal and/or reporting the matter to the appropriate authorities. The complainant and alleged violator will be advised of the decision.
  7. Where the complaint is not substantiated, the CEO will dismiss the complaint and advise the complainant and alleged violator of the decision.
  8. Confidentiality will be maintained at all times to the fullest extent possible and practical. However, OTF has an obligation to pursue matters and this will include communication of the complaint to the alleged violator. OTF also has an obligation to be fair to the person named in the matter and to permit that person to hear and respond to the complaint unless the matter has been referred to the appropriate authorities.
  9. The Head of Human Resources, may request the assistance of external resources in resolving such matters.
  10. Claims of workplace violence which are found to be vexatious or made in bad faith may result in disciplinary action taken against the complainant.
  11. At the completion of an investigation, and after steps have been taken to deal with the incident (where applicable), if the staff or volunteer still feels endangered , a Ministry of Labour investigator will be contacted to conduct an investigation of the incident.
  12. Threats of reprisal or retaliation against any employee/volunteer who participates in this process will not be tolerated and are considered a violation of this policy, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Public Services of Ontario Act (PSOA) (OTF Staff and Volunteers are considered “public servants” under the PSOA and, as such, are protected against reprisals from any disclosure of wrongdoing).