Violence in the workplace is quickly becoming the buzz word of the time. Most governments are now considering legislation that will force companies to deal with these issues in order to improve workplace safety. Take Bill 168, in the province of Ontario Canada, that is about to take effect on June 15, 2010.
The Bill, under the Health and Safety Act, requires an employer to assess the risk of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, and the type of work or the conditions of work. The assessment must take into account common risks at other similar workplaces and risks specific to the employer’s workspace. A copy of the risk assessment and its results must be provided to the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative. If there is no committee or representative, employees must be advised on how to obtain copies of the assessment and its results and it must be provided to workers on request.
A good strategy to stay ahead of any legislation should include the following:
– An overview and understanding of the legislation and or pending legislation that emphasize key components and legal duties of your organization.
– Recognized and approved best security practices for conducting workplace violence risk assessments.
– Putting workplace violence in perspective with other security issues in your organization.
– The categories of workplace violence and how each one requires different mitigation actions.
– Steps to creating a court defensible workplace violence program.
– Workplace Violence Risk Assessment – more than checklists.
– Written and implementation plan of effective policies and procedures that work.
– Training programs – what works and what doesn’t – getting buy-in from the beginning.
– Incident management – the multidisciplinary team approach.
– Mitigating the impact of incidents to minimize the impact on your operations.
– Case management – how proper recording and analyzing incident reports can enable you to take proactive preventive steps to prevent future incidents.
– Supporting the victims of workplace violence to minimize the effect on the workplace.
There is little doubt that given the current stresses we are all exposed to, employers need to create a safer workplace for its employees, and if it takes government intervention to do so, then count me in as a supporter.
Last week there was a news event about some young man in high school that took his own life after reportedly being the victim of ongoing bullying. The school board and high profile community members set up a task force to examine what can be done about this ongoing issue in schools today. All this, just on the heels of this new Bill 168 Workplace Violence and Harassment legislation that is to take effect June 15, 2010.
Rather than gather more adults and so-called experts to see what can be put in place to deal with these issues, the task force should be made up of mostly students and the primary focus should be on HOW do we empower students to resolve these sorts of conflicts themselves. As the old saying goes “Give the man (student) a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him/her how to fish you feed them for life”. The fact that Bill 168 and similar legislation has been needed, is evidence that students and young adults were never taught how to fish for themselves.
As a society that is more and more reliant on technology and less reliant on working with one another, schools should adopt mandatory effective communications skills. Books like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or Dr. George Thompson’s “Verbal Judo” need to become part of the curriculum.
You see, since the game boy generation, our kids have been taught that in order to win at “the game” you have no time to think; you simply need to react as quickly as possible and faster than the game. That has created a generation of society that goes through life reacting before thinking of what the consequences might be. We give our kids violence simulator and take away many of the social programs from our school curriculum and then act all shocked when they develop violent or aggressive behaviour.
There is no law, no matter how strict, that will ever resolve the issue or workplace violence and harassment. The only way to resolve the issue is to empower tomorrow’s generation with communication and social education skills they need to survive in this shrinking world.
Rene Beaulieu CPP, President, SECURaGLOBE Solutions Inc.