The OHSA requires all school boards to assess the risks of workplace violence and to conduct a reassessment of the risks of workplace violence as often as necessary to ensure the workplace violence policy and the measures and procedures in the workplace violence program continue to protect workers from workplace violence. School boards must ensure an assessment/reassessment of the risks of workplace violence is conducted for each of their workplaces (e.g., school, classroom, other work location).

A risk assessment under the OHSA is not an assessment of an individual or student.

Under the OHSA, school boards are required to assess the risks of workplace violence that may arise from:

  1. the nature of the workplace
  2. the type of work; or
  3. the conditions of work.

The nature of the workplace refers to the physical aspects of the workplace and may include but is not limited to schools, school yards, school board offices, field trip locations, non-traditional classrooms, third-party spaces, hospitals and custody and correctional facilities and any other place that a worker performs work for the school board.

For more information on the nature of non-traditional classrooms refer to Guidelines for Educational Programs for Students in Government Approved Care and/or Treatment, Custody and Correctional Facilities.

The type of work refers to the activities workers perform and the type of people with whom workers interact such as students, co-workers, agencies, parents, volunteers, and other members of the community, either individually or in groups. Activities could include, but are not limited to, classroom teaching, assisting students outside the classroom, non-academic work, recess, lunch support and field trips. These are a few examples of the different settings where work is performed and school boards must assess all types of work for the risk of workplace violence.

The conditions of work refer to other aspects such as the time of work, whether workers move from location to location, work alone, or work in isolated or remote workplaces.

In carrying out the assessment, school boards must consider:

  1. circumstances common to similar workplaces (e.g., other school boards); and
  2. circumstances specific to the workplace (e.g., non-traditional classrooms, geographical locations).

As a leading practice, a risk assessment conducted in a school board setting should include assessing:

  • the physical environment, for instance, the security and control of entry and exit points, the working conditions and maintenance of the school communication systems, and the geographical location of the school
  • work practices, conditions, and the nature of work, such as working alone with students or others, working outside, working in a portable, being an occasional or part-time worker, providing personal care to a student, special events at a school including assemblies and school trips
  • current measures and procedures in the workplace violence program which may include, but not be limited to:
    • a means to summon immediate assistance
    • workplace violence response and prevention protocols
    • information and instruction (which may include elements such as recognizing, managing, and de-escalating behaviours)
    • measures and procedures to develop and/or revise student safety plans
    • sharing of information as appropriate, and consistent with OHSA and other applicable legislation, for student transitions and transfers within and across school boards
    • measures and procedures when the school board becomes aware of domestic violence; and
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The risk assessment should also include any known risks based on a review of previous workplace incidents as well as any known risks identified in other school communities (e.g., the entry of weapons into a school).

Development of a student safety plan is not an assessment or reassessment the risk of workplace violence in itself and does not constitute a workplace violence risk assessment or reassessment as required under the OHSA. However, the measures and procedures in the workplace violence program may include safe work practices (e.g., student safety plans) to support and protect students and workers. Student safety plans may be developed or revised to address a change in the potential of risk of workplace violence.

For more information refer to section on Student Safety Plan.