In our last blog, we discussed the Mock Trial presented at the recent WSPS Partners and Prevention Conference which told the story of Billy Bonka's shipper receiver, David and his altercation with Taste-piration's truck driver, which resulted in a workplace violence incident . In today's blog we will further discuss the challenges facing Bill Bonka as they head into court to defend their charges laid by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. After investigating the details of the case, the Ministry of Labour laid charges against both Billy Bonka Confectioners Inc. and David's supervisor, Brian Mercer.
Billy Bonka was charged with three counts against the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. After their shipper/receiver, David was attacked; he couldn't find reception from his cell phone in the storage facility. As part of their Bill 168 implementation, this had been deemed as the only means of summoning assistance, when employee were in the external storage facility. Billy Bonka Confectioners was subsequently charged with failing to take the reasonable precaution of ensuring its procedures for summoning immediate assistance were in place, should a workplace violence and harassment incident occur. It was revealed that Billy Bonka's operations manager Brian was approached by David, Billy Bonka's Shipper/receiver regarding several threatening text messages from Taste-piration's truck driver, but Brian chose not to investigate further. This resulted in a further charge to Billy Bonka of failing to implement an effective workplace harassment program to prevent, or minimize, the chances of workplace violence and harassment from occurring. Lastly, it was also revealed that Brian, Billy Bonka's operations manager, was informed about Taste-piration's truck driver's violent altercation which occured at a company holiday party with another worker and which resulted in criminal charges being laid. Again Brian and Billy Bonka management decided not to mention anything to David the shipper/receiver. For that, Billy Bonka was charged with failing to provide information that is related to reducing the risk associated with workplace violence and injury to their workers.
Interestingly, not only was Billy Bonka, as a company, charged in this case, but Brian Mercer, Billy Bonka's operations manager was also individually charged for two breaches to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. Brian was charged for not implementing the workplace harassment program and withholding information from David associated with the risk of meeting with the truck driver.
Unfortunately, the mock trial judge did not provide us with a final verdict. He did however indicate that the company, Billy Bonka, did not appear to have done everything that was reasonably necessary to ensure the safety of their workers. So, as an employer, supervisor, boss, or HR manager, what would you have done? Would you have taken the necessary steps to avoid workplace violence and harassment? As you can see from the outcome of this case, not only was the entire company fined, but managers can also be individually fined for breaching the OHSA. How do you avoid this kind of situation in your workplace? Not sure where to start when it comes to Bill 168?
To assist employers in ensuring that they have complied with the legislation and minimize their risk, our experts at Clear Path have prepared a do it yourself package which walks you through the list of required actions for employers to take which will help prevent as well as limit their liability if an incident does happen to occur in your workplace. Those steps are as follows:
Still not sure where to start? Join us on June 14th when we revisit Bill 168 and discuss how to prevent workplace injury in our upcoming workshop How to Perform a Bill 168 Risk Assessment, being held at the Cambridge Chamber in Cambridge.
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