The new Workplace Violence Risk Assessment for Ontario educators

Protect education workers from violence, prevent injuries, and meet legal responsibilities with the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment

The new Workplace Violence Risk Assessment for Ontario educators

This article was sponsored by the Public Services Health & Safety Association.

Incidences of workplace violence and associated risks in Ontario’s education sector have been increasing. In 2022, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) launched an initiative to address the rising number of incidents reported in K-12 schools.

The Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA), in cooperation with the MLITSD, recognized a need to enliven the means through which education staff at all levels — administrators, school boards, teachers, principals, and more — assess risks of violence in the workplace and build plans to address them.

To do this, PSHSA saw an opportunity to build a new, dynamic solution to meet the needs of Ontario’s education sector: the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment.

Gathering input

To begin creating this revitalized resource, PSHSA sought input from members of the education sector in schools and communities who work directly with students. Every educational institution is unique, and the needs of high schools vary widely from the needs of elementary schools, as do the demographics and neighbourhoods across the province.

PSHSA knew that any product that could deliver on its goals would need to provide support to all of Ontario in every K-12 environment. The new risk assessment would also need to be adopted by education professionals at all levels, who would be the main advocates at the school level.

PSHSA collected more than 1,150 responses, bringing together teachers, administrators, school boards, unions, and other education professionals at every level of K-12 education. Having educators of all kinds at the table allowed PSHSA to create a solution that truly reflects the needs and challenges of the education sector.

The new risk assessment represents a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of educators and administrators in Ontario’s schools. The goal is to foster a collaborative environment where employers and workers work together to complete the risk assessment, supporting dialogue and continuous improvement in their workplaces.

A new online method for assessing workplace violence in education

Other workplace violence risk assessments available to the education sector were often paper-based. Initial input from educators was that they needed a user-friendly solution they could easily integrate into their own systems.

This new online Workplace Violence Risk Assessment leverages a new and dynamic spreadsheet format that is easily uploaded and hosted on any internal staff software. It is designed to be proactive, guiding users through various scenarios and circumstances where workplace violence may occur. They can then provide a risk rating to help them prioritize their safety measures effectively.

Opportunities for broader applications exist as well, such as the ability to integrate the risk assessment into schools’ software platforms, making adaptability for different environments one of its strongest features.

Support and implementation

The Workplace Violence Risk Assessment aims to equip educators with the resources and knowledge they need to identify and assess risks of violence in K-12 schools. From there, educators will have a clear roadmap of potential risks of violence and implement appropriate measures to mitigate risk.

PSHSA can assist workplaces throughout their use of the risk assessment, from guiding them through the process to action planning through consultation and support.

Access the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment today

The new assessment is now available in both English and French on PSHSA’s website, including a webinar tutorial and a supportive toolkit with additional resources.