Since 2010, Clear Path has helped dozens of businesses become compliant with Ontario's Bill 168, an amendment to the province's Occupational Health & Safety Act, which requires employers to take active steps to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace.
One year ago, our company had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a troubling situation in our own workplace. Luckily, no one was physically injured, but we learned quite a few lessons, including:
What happened: Part 1
Please note that we are intentionally obscuring some details because of an ongoing criminal case and to protect the privacy of those involved.
One of our neighbouring businesses has travelling service people who regularly drive around the region in clearly marked company vehicles.
On this particular day, one of their servicemen was turning left into a local coffee shop when he was almost hit from behind by another driver. Although there was not an actual collision, the second driver became incensed and followed him into the coffee shop and became irate in front of other customers. The serviceman decided to leave and drove away, immediately followed by the irate driver. Another customer at the coffee shop saw the escalating situation and decided to follow the two vehicles as well.
Noticing that he was being followed, the serviceman continued driving and unsuccessfully attempted to "lose" the other vehicle. Eventually the serviceman decided to pull over in a parking lot and speak to his pursuer. The irate driver attempted to block the serviceman's truck and continued to rage against him. The customer from the coffee shop arrived and after appraising the escalating situation, advised the serviceman to get into his truck and leave, which he did (immediately followed by the irate driver).
The serviceman drove back to the office (only a few minutes away), followed by the irate driver who had called into the serviceman's company's corporate phone line screaming threats and obscenities. The serviceman entered through the back door, which was promptly locked to keep the other driver out.
However, the story continued...
What happened: Part 2
The irate driver then made his way to the front lobby area (which Clear Path shares). He stormed into the Clear Path office yelling and demanding to see the serviceman. This was quite a shock to the two of our staff members nearby. They did not understand what he was talking about and were quickly trying to assess the level of risk from this large, distraught person.
They soon realized he was speaking about an employee from our neighbour business and tried to direct him to their office. The irate driver refused to leave and accused our team members of lying and "hiding" the serviceman in our office. Eventually they were able to get him out into the lobby area but our neighbour had locked their front door as well. The irate driver became increasingly upset, screaming and threatening to kill the serviceman.
Our employees attempted to remove themselves from this escalating situation and to lock our front door. They realized that the particular lock on our door made this difficult. At that time, it only locked from the outside, making it impossible for them to get behind the door and lock it from the inside. Our fast-thinking staff member was able to lock it, although this did increase the amount of danger for them.
Police were called and the individual left the premises. He later turned himself in at the police and was charged and given a restraining order. Despite this, he continued to make threatening telephone calls to our neighbour for a day or so after this event. Police officers took statements from our staff and the legal process is continuing.
Are you compliant?
If you have any questions about Bill 168, need help in assessing your risk in relation to workplace violence or harassment, would like an external third party to investigate an employee complaint, or are concerned you may not be compliant with the legislation, please contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at email@example.com or (519) 624-0800.
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Clear Path Employer Services
295 Thompson Drive, Unit 2
Cambridge, Ontario N1T 2B9
T: (519) 624-0800
T: (888) 336-0950
F: (519) 624-0860
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