Legal Guidance About Risk Assessment of Bill 168 as shared by the legal team at Pavey, Law & Witteveen LLP. To receive guidance about risk assessments and to determine if Bill 168 is applicable to your business or organization, please contact them directly at www.paveylaw.com.
Bill 168, Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), 2009, amends Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. It places a duty on employers to take every reasonable step to protect workers if the employer knows or ought to know there is likelihood the safety of a worker will be endangered at the workplace by an act of domestic violence. It became effective on June 15, 2010.
It requires that most employers in Ontario:
adopt policies and procedures on workplace violence and harassment;
take steps to protect employees from acts of domestic violence in the workplace; and
warn employees where they are likely to come into contact in the workplace with an individual with a history of violence.
Workplace violence includes a threat, an attempt or an exercise of physical force. Workplace harassment means vexatious comments or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.
To comply with Bill 168, employers must:
- Develop written policies with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace.
- Assess the risk of workplace violence and communicate the results of that assessment to a joint health and safety committee, a health and safety representative or to workers if there is no committee in place.
- Develop a program to implement and maintain the violence and harassment policies.
- Take reasonable precautions where the employer is aware or ought to be aware that domestic violence is likely to expose workers to the risk of physical injury in the workplace.
- Provide information to workers about an individual with a history of violence where workers are likely to encounter that person in the course of their work and where there is risk of physical injury.
- Allow workers to refuse unsafe work where workplace violence is likely to endanger their safety.
- As with other serious incidents, notify the Ministry of Labour of an incident of violence.
Penalties for Non-Compliance to Bill 168
As part of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, contravention carries the possibility of a significant fine and/or jail time. For corporations, the maximum fine is $500,000 and for individuals the maximum penalty is $25,000 and/or six months imprisonment.