June 15th marks the third anniversary of Ontario's Bill 168, which modified the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include more stringent and explicit requirements for employers to prevent workplace violence and harassment.
Bill 168 remains controversial because it includes the need to prevent domestic violence in the workplace and the obligation to disclose a co-worker's history of violence to fellow employees.
It is estimated that up to 80% of Ontario small businesses are not yet compliant with the legislation (or may not understand that they have not completed all the requirements).
Here are some updates on what's happening in Ontario related to Bill 168:
Labour board finds Ontario business liable under Bill 168
In January, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) found that Pro-Cut Concrete Cutting, a commercial and industrial concrete supplier based in Thornhill), was liable for a supervisor’s assault and threats against two workers as a violation of the Bill 168 provisions within the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Interestingly, it declined to award the union's request for substantial monetary damages (they had asked for $50,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 to each worker for mental distress). The board did award lost pay to the workers.
The company was providing services at a construction job site on Sept. 24, 2012 when a supervisor (who is also a principal of the company) physically assaulted a labourer. On Nov. 5, 2012, the same supervisor threatened another worker with physical violence and death. The workers' union filed a grievance.
A summary of the results:
MOL blitz targets workplace violence in healthcare industry
According to the MOL press release, more than 550,000 Ontarians work at hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other health care workplaces. This sector is particularly vulnerable to incidents of violence as health care workers regularly deal with patients with mental illnesses or who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Between February and March 2013, MOL inspectors visited hospitals, long-term care facilities, and residential group homes to check that employers are:
Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's Minister of Labour, released the following statement regarding the Winter Blitz:
“Our government is committed to preventing injuries and deaths of workers in health care workplaces, and ensuring every Ontarian feels safe at work. This Winter blitz is about creating awareness, so at the end of the day workers in the healthcare sector can recognize situations where themselves or their co-workers may be at risk.”
The results of the MOL Blitz are not yet available, but will be shared at a later date.
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