Labour minister announces workplace violence ‘tool box’

Labour minister announces workplace violence ‘tool box’
Partners in Prevention 2010, Ontario’s newest health and safety tradeshow and conference, kicked off May 4th with the Ministry of Labour announcing the availability of the workplace violence toolbox to help organizations comply with Bill 168, new legislation amending the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to add workplace violence-specific requirements.

Speaking at the Partners in Prevention opening ceremonies, Labour Minister Peter Fonseca said the workplace violence toolbox would help employers assess and control risks of violence in the workplace.

“By preventing injuries and creating healthier workplaces, businesses are more productive and create a more prosperous Ontario,” Fonseca said.

Bill 168, which takes effect June 15, 2010, requires employers to develop workplace violence and harassment policies and programs, and provide information and training to workers on the content of those programs. The amendment also requires employers to assess the risks of violence at their workplace, and take reasonable precautions to protect workers from possible domestic violence in the workplace.

The amendments also give workers the right to refuse work if they are at risk of physical injury from workplace violence, Fonseca said.

The workplace violence toolbox contains forms that will help employers get started on their Bill 168 compliance. It includes sample forms for conducting a workplace violence survey, a checklist for policy, program and training review, a general form for conducting a physical environment assessment, and a risk factor selection tool to help employers identify risks specific to their workplace. The workplace violence toolbox can be found on the Ministry of Labour’s website.

Fonseca also talked about the recently formed panel to review Ontario’s occupational health and safety system of prevention and enforcement, which he announced early this year, following a number of construction accidents that occurred late last year.

“I have every confidence that the recommendations we receive from this expert panel will go a long way to improving health and safety in provincially regulated workplaces,” he said.

Tony Dean, University of Toronto professor of public policy and governance and chair of the expert advisory panel reviewing the Ontario OHS system, also spoke at the opening ceremony.

In his address, Dean emphasized the importance of consulting with the health and safety community to get the best results and deliver the best recommendations for OHS improvements in the province.

The panel will look at issues such as entry-level safety training, the impact of the underground economy on health and safety practices, and using existing legislation and programs to better promote worker safety.

The expert advisory panel is expected to report on its recommendations to the Ministry of Labour this fall.

At a conference session, John Vander Doelen, director of the Ministry of Labour’s Review Project Secretariat, gave attendees a more detailed look at the scope of the review and some of the issues that will be examined by the expert advisory panel.

Partners in Prevention 2010 was presented by the Ontario Prevention System Partners, the four organizations that make up the 12 newly-amalgamated health and safety associations in Ontario: Health and Safety Association for Government Services, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, Safe Workplace Promotion Services, and Workplace Safety North.

Partners in Prevention 2010 was held May 4 and 5 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont.