Effective Date: June 15, 2010
Responsibility: Director of Education
This administrative guideline applies to all work activities that occur while on Board business, or workplace social events. Workplace is defined as any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works.
The Near North District School Board believes in the prevention of workplace violence and promotes a violence-free workplace in which all people respect one another and work together to achieve common goals. Any act of workplace violence is unacceptable conduct. Workplace violence in any form erodes the mutual trust and confidence that are essential to the well-being of our staff.
1.0 Violence in the Workplace – Definition under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
(a) the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
(b) an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker,
(c) a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.
This administrative guideline applies to all members of the Board community, including but not limited to, trustees, students, employees, visitors such as parents and community members, volunteers, permit holders, contractors, and employees of other organizations who work on or are invited onto Board property.
3.0 Risk Assessment
The risk of violence occurring in the workplace is linked to a number of factors, including the nature of the workplace, the type of work, or conditions of the work.
Examples include, but are not limited to:
a) Location of the workplace, e.g., schools located in high crime areas, isolated areas
b) Travelling in the community, to and from workplace, visiting families, teaching in sites other than schools
d) Access to workplace (entry)
e) Working with unstable or volatile clients/students, e.g., students with severe needs, workplace population including members of youth gangs
f) Handling cash
g) Working alone or in small numbers, e.g., working late, meeting parents after school hours, driving a Board vehicle
4.0 Board Responsibility – Risk Assessment, Violence in the Workplace
The Principal/Supervisor shall identify the risks of workplace violence occurring on Board premises, or while engaging in Board-sanctioned workplace activities or workplace social events. Risk assessments should include a rating of the risk of workplace violence taking place in a given workplace. The presence of specific programs in a school community (in addition to regular programs) must be considered when reviewing a school community, e.g., presence of night school programs, programs for students with severe needs, suspension/expulsion programs, school used for community programs, etc.
Employee groups will be surveyed to determine the extent to which they feel their workplace is safe. The aggregate results of these surveys will be used to identify issues related to workplace violence.
5.0 Rating Scale
A rating scale is provided to determine the likelihood of violence in the workplace and to assist in deciding the nature of the controls to be put in place. The rating scale suggests rating the risk of workplace violence as low, moderate, or high, according to the following definitions, which rely on a combination of frequency and severity.
Low: One or more potential risks which rarely place a member of the board community at risk of workplace violence, and/or the risk of workplace violence is minimal. The risk of workplace violence is not related to a normal part of the work routine, and/or there is minimal potential for intervention or first aid to be required.
Moderate: One or more potential risks of workplace violence which may occasionally place a member of the board community at risk of workplace violence, and/or the risk of workplace violence is possible. The risk of workplace violence may be related to a normal part of the work routine on an infrequent basis, and/or there is moderate potential for intervention, or first aid or medical aid to be required.
High: One or more potential risks of workplace violence which may regularly place a member of the board community at risk of workplace violence, and/or the risk of workplace violence is related to a normal part of the work routine on a regular basis, and/or there is a high potential for intervention(s), or medical aid to be required.
Assessments should include the identification of existing controls, measures/procedures already in place and additional controls, measures/procedures required to minimize risks of workplace violence.
A. Assessing and Controlling Risks
At a minimum, workplaces will be assessed for the following characteristics:
Workplace Location - risk of workplace violence occurring due to the nature of the community in which the workplace is located, working in the community (off-site of the workplace, e.g., home schooling), working alone or in isolation, physical attributes of the workplace, areas on the periphery of the workplace (e.g., parking lots, portables in playing fields), controls on entry to the workplace and on entry to parts of the workplace, use of the workplace by non-employees (e.g., community groups). Some of these may be considered significant enough that separate assessments need to be completed.
General Workplace - Clients/Students/Visitors -risk of workplace violence occurring due to the characteristics of the general workplace population, including staff, students, parents, and the general public. This risk may vary by area within workplaces.
Specific Workplace - Clients/Students/Visitors - risk of workplace violence occurring due to individual students, clients, or employees who create a specific risk of workplace violence, e.g., students, clients, or employees with a history of violence
Handling Money – risk of workplace violence occurring due to employees and others handling money in the course of their work.
As part of the risk assessment, current controls, procedures and measures for controlling these risks should be identified, along with additional controls, procedures, and measures for controlling risk which may be necessary. When additional controls, procedures, and measures are identified it is suggested that a plan be developed for the implementation of these measures.
6.0 Domestic Violence
Domestic violence occurring in the workplace is recognized by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as workplace violence. Unlike many risks which may lend themselves to regular and ongoing assessment, the risk of domestic violence taking place in the workplace is much more variable and less easily anticipated, although nonetheless real. The OHSA does not require an assessment of the risks of domestic violence becoming workplace violence. However, the Near North District School Board is committed to educating workers regarding domestic violence, and to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers from domestic violence that is likely to expose workers to physical injury in the workplace.
Board employees shall be made aware through posters and literature what domestic violence is, the seriousness of domestic violence, and their responsibilities in informing the appropriate staff when they are reasonably aware that domestic violence may occur in the workplace.
The responsibility for creating and maintaining a workplace environment in which workers are protected from domestic violence that may expose workers to physical injury in the workplace rests with all workers sharing the workplace.
Workers have a duty to report hazards to their supervisor. Section 28 (1) d of the OHSA reads that, “A worker shall report to his or her employer or supervisor….the existence of any hazard of which he or she knows.” Workers who have information that they, or a fellow worker is subject to domestic violence that may expose them or their fellow workers to physical injury in the workplace have a responsibility to inform their supervisor, except where the supervisor may be party to the domestic violence, in which case the worker shall inform the appropriate Superintendent.
The supervisor will treat all such reports in confidence, and only disclose to Human Resources or others who need to know, information that is necessary for the protection of workers in the workplace.
6.4 Fact Finding for Domestic Violence
Supervisors who are informed that there is a worker who may be subject to domestic violence in the workplace must gauge the nature and extent of the threat. This may require the supervisor to interview both the source of the information about the threat, and the worker(s) who may be subject to the risk of domestic violence in the workplace. It may also require more detailed investigations directed by the Superintendent. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to make this contact.
The supervisor may request from the worker reasonable documentation in the circumstances to assess the risks and to put in place precautions to protect the worker. Such documentation may include a copy of a court order, police report or photograph of the alleged perpetrator.
The NNDSB will make available to all workers information about supports available for victims of domestic violence. Depending on the location of the board, such supports may include the Employee Assistance Program, community counselling, support groups, shelters, and the police. When possible, supervisors will remind potential victims of domestic violence in the workplace of these resources.
In all circumstances, a supervisor must tell the victim that if they feel at risk of physical harm whether inside or outside the workplace or at home, the worker should contact the police.
If the threat of domestic violence is from a co-worker, the supervisor, following consultation with the appropriate superintendent, must take steps to ensure the victim and other workers are protected. Such steps may include, but are not limited to, warnings, employee transfers, informing police, no trespassing order and requesting restraining orders.
If the threat of domestic violence is from someone outside of the workplace, the supervisor, following consultation with the appropriate superintendent, must take steps to ensure the victim and other workers are protected. Such steps may include, but are not limited to, warnings, employee transfers, informing police, and requesting no trespass orders and/or requesting restraining orders.
7.0 Summoning Immediate Assistance
The chart below identifies potential methods of summoning immediate assistance.
Depending on the nature, location and level of risk, this includes summoning assistance from the Principal/Supervisor or other supports as well as community assistance through 911. When determining the effectiveness of various devices, it is important to consider the employee’s location (onsite or offsite) and time of day (working during or outside of regular hours). Below are some examples of devices which individuals or the board may consider using to summon assistance.
7.1 Types of Communication Devices
Device Strengths Weaknesses
School-wide P.A. System Immediate school-wide communication
o Useful for “code” alerts May not be heard by those in noisy areas
One way communication only
Restricts type of information that can be communicated (confidentiality)
Not available at all sites
Classroom P.A. System Direct link to the main office
Simple usage Requires someone to be in the office
Fixed location in the class means staff may not be able to access in an emergency
Useful inside individual rooms only
Classroom Phone Direct link
Simple usage If being attacked, employee may not be able to use – not enough time to dial
Not present in all classrooms
Individual Cell Phone Fast direct one-to-one communication
Can be used almost all locations including community
Few range limitations
Can be used to text messages (when speaking is not an option; use with deaf/hard of hearing)
Can be used for a variety of messages including 911
Requires message recipient to be available
Signal strength may be poor in elevators, basements, board office
If being attacked, employee may not be able to use – not enough time to dial
2-Way Radio (Walkie-Talkie) Almost instant communication
One button use
Can use voice or signal communication
Can select specific recipient or numerous recipients
Can be used for a variety of messages
Few weak spots within range
Requires base station to be continuously staffed or select receivers always active (also may move about)
No 911 component
Must be maintained/charged
Personal Alarms Panic type (incapacitating sound) may deter attack Sound brings assistance to general area
Non-panic type (transmits emergency signal to a receiver) may include two-way communication as well as identification
Immediate, one button use Use limited to extreme situations unless two-way communication included
May take time to pinpoint location (if GPS not included)
• No 911 component
GPS Tracking System Continuous or signaled tracking
May be included in personal alarms Requires continuous monitoring of all signals (additional staffing)
Most expensive communication system
No 911 component
Activate the Fire Alarm Good for those working alone
Brings emergency assistance May not be able to reach the nearest pull station
Buddy system Human support Buddy may forget to check on employee at designated time
8.0 Work Refusals
Workers have a duty to report hazards to their supervisor. Section 28 (1) d of the OHSA reads that, “A worker shall report to his or her employer or supervisor….the existence of any hazard of which he or she knows. Workers have the right to refuse work if workplace violence is likely to endanger the worker. The limited right of teachers to refuse work remains.
The Occupational Health & Safety Act is specific about the requirements to be followed when a worker indicates he/she is refusing to work. A worker must notify his/her supervisor if he or she is refusing to do work. If a worker indicates he/she is refusing to work the Principal/Supervisor needs to determine if the refusal meets the criteria defined by section 43(3) of the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
A worker may refuse to work or do particular work if he or she has reason to believe that:
a) any equipment, machine, device or thing the worker is to use or operate is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker;
b) the physical condition of the workplace or part thereof in which he or she works or is to work is likely to endanger himself or herself;
(b.1) workplace violence is likely to endanger himself or herself;
c) any equipment, machine, device or thing (the worker) is to use or operate or the physical condition of the workplace or part thereof in which he or she works is to work is in contravention of the OHSA or the applicable regulations and as such the contravention is likely to endanger himself, herself or another worker
STEPS TO FOLLOW:
8.1 If the nature of the refusal meets these requirements, the Principal/Supervisor must:
1) Immediately contact their Superintendent, and indicate that he/ she is dealing with a work refusal. The Superintendent will inform the appropriate union/federation representative who will investigate along with the Health & Safety Officer as required and the Principal/Supervisor as soon as possible but without uneccessary delay.
2) Document the work refusal including, but not limited to, the worker’s complaint, time, date, relevant information, and any outcome of the refusal.
3) Take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of students and employees
4) Pending the investigation the worker (complainant) must stay in a safe place and be available to the investigator. The worker may be assigned other work while the work refusal is being investigated. If another worker is asked to work in the worker/complainant’s place, the worker should be informed of the work refusal.
8.2 If the nature of the work refusal does NOT meet the requirements above in a), b), b1) or c), then this incident does not constitute a legitimate work refusal situation, in which case, the worker (complainant) should be informed that it was not a proper refusal to work and be instructed to return to work. Contact Human Resources, and the appropriate Superintendent for further information.
8.3 If the worker engaged in a refusal to work that meets the requirements in a), b), b1) or c) above, then steps should be taken to rectify the situation so that it is deemed safe to return to work. Once the steps are taken, the worker (complainant) should be informed of the steps taken and directed to return to the work area. If the worker continues to refuse to work, the Union, the worker or the employer should contact the Ministry of Labour.
N.B. A teacher cannot refuse to work as per O.Reg. 857. Teachers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, where the circumstances are such that the life, health or safety of a pupil is in imminent jeopardy.
9.0 Employer Investigations (other than Domestic Violence)
Conducting an internal investigation complaint or incident must be done with a high degree of sensitivity, and will often need to take into account the rights of not only the accuser but also the accused. In a school board setting the accused could be a student, employer, visitor, parent or outside community member. A comprehensive investigation needs to be performed to ensure compliance with applicable legislation and to withstand scrutiny of the courts, arbitrators and/or other administrative tribunals. The investigation needs to be fair and unbiased.
Investigations can become very complicated and may cross many different internal departmental boundaries (Safe Schools, Human Resources, Special Education).
All investigations should be performed based upon notification submitted by the employee. The attached form will be completed by the worker and provided to Principal/Supervisor.
Once the investigation is completed, a summary of the findings and any action taken should be provided to the Superintendent for sharing with the JHS Committee. The report will NOT include any personal or identifying information relevant to the victim and/or the perpetrator.
The purpose of the report to the JHSC is to review current health and safety procedures. If there is a need to change or develop a procedure as a result of the investigation the JHSC will be made aware of that fact.
Due to the complexity of these issues the Superintendent with the assistance of Human Resources will oversee the investigations and reporting. The investigator must be familiar with legal issues relevant to the investigations including:
2. Board procedures
3. Collective Agreements
4. Human Rights Code
5. Criminal Code
6. Education Act (e.g. Safe Schools)
All investigators need to be viewed as impartial and non biased.
10.0 Role of the Joint Health and Safety Committee
The Near North DSB may consult with the JHSC and other affected parties when developing procedures and programs to ensure their input is received. As per the OHSA, the Board will report directly to the JHSC with notification within four days when a worker is injured due to workplace violence and, as result of the incident, the worker is disabled from performing his or her usual work or the worker requires medical attention. Personal information will not be shared with the JHSC. Consideration will also be given to providing findings of investigations of workplace violence related issues.
Unlike workplace violence, there is no requirement to alert the JHSC to incidents of workplace harassment.
11.0 Information and Instruction
The Board and Principal/Supervisor shall ensure that all employees in the workplace are made aware of this administrative guideline and its procedures.
Intensity and types of training will vary according to the risk level for workers as identified in the assessment(s) that the Board undertakes.
11.1 Information and Instruction specific to staff in workplace areas where moderate to high risk exists
The Board and Principal/Supervisor shall ensure that:
• all the staff who work on a regular basis in positions where moderate to high risk exists shall have the qualifications, experience and training necessary to minimize the risk of workplace violence;
• all staff have received training in the nature and recognition of the risks specific to their assignment;
• all staff have received training in procedures/safety measures that minimize the risks specific to their assignment;
• all staff have any personal protective equipment (PPE) deemed reasonable and necessary in the circumstances; and wear this PPE
• individual physical demands analysis will be considered to ensure that all staff have the physical well-being to carry out procedures/safety measures that minimize their risk of injury (reviewed on an ongoing basis);
• the affected and necessary staff are involved in the development of Safety Plans
• procedures and safety measures are available to the affected staff as required;
• training is updated and/or refreshed as often as necessary;
• procedures are in place when these staff are absent. Any replacement staff (short or long-term) are aware of the risks and either have the training requirements noted above or are supported by additional staff who have the training requirements.
In many circumstances the risk of workplace violence can only be controlled or minimized rather than eliminated. The risks associated with specific community environments, the requirements of a small number of students with special needs, the necessity of handling money, all continue even with controls, procedures and measures in place to minimize risk. Therefore, it is essential that re-assessments of the risk of workplace violence take place when workplace conditions substantially change, or at the very least annually. All re-assessments should take place to coincide with the annual update and submission of the Emergency Response Plan with copies provided to the Health and Safety Officer.
12.1 The board shall ensure that all incidents of workplace violence are documented.
12.2 The board shall ensure that:
12.2.1 a review of this administrative guideline will occur annually. The risk of workplace violence will be monitored and the effectiveness of controls, procedures and measures in place will be evaluated;
12.2.2 all incidents of workplace violence are documented and reported immediately to the Principal/Supervisor and as required to the Joint Health and Safety Committee for the board; and
12.2.3 an ongoing site-based process is in place to modify controls, procedures and measures as necessary.
Forms for such items as reporting are necessary. Forms will be kept in accordance with current Records Retention guidelines. Records need to be readily available for review by a Ministry of Labour Inspector.