Workers in British Columbia are entitled to safe work environments, and employers must ensure their safety. The risks of workplace violence have increased significantly in recent years. Safety authorities require employers or supervisors to provide safety training and education to mitigate violence-related health and safety hazards.
Workers are not only vulnerable on the premises of their employers. Risks of violence exist while travelling to work and while working offsite. Before a violence prevention program can be put in place, an employer should assess the risks to employees – a process that should be repeated annually, with reference to the following:
- Incidents of violence in the past
- Incidents of violence in comparable workplaces
- Reassessing risks if any changes took place since the previous assessment
- Recording circumstances and locations where work is done
After completing the assessment, safety policies, procedures and changes to work areas can be established to reduce violence-related risks. Safety training should include:
- De-escalation or similar violence prevention in specific workplaces both on and offsite
- Procedures to report violent incidents
- Procedures to respond to incidents of violence
Dealing with threats of violence
Employers, staff or the business itself might become targets of violence – or threats of violence. These could be external or internal threats. Employers could learn about violence-related threats through the following:
- A client, employee or another party identifies an incident and reports it.
- One person directly threatens the business owner, a supervisor or a specific employee.
- An employee makes a threat of violence after being the subject of a disciplinary process.
- A terminated employee makes threats of violence against the employer, supervisor or colleague.
If you are a victim of work-related violence, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation to cover damages such as medical expenses and lost wages. The first step is to follow your company’s procedures for reporting the violent incident to your employer. If your employer does not take the appropriate corrective action, an employment lawyer can help you navigate your options to get the justice you deserve.