Workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) Definition s. 1 (1):
Workplace violence against a worker may be a one-time occurrence or involve repeated behaviours over time such as hitting, kicking, and biting a worker that causes or could cause physical injury. Workplace violence may also include an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, such as an attempt to hit or bite, and may also include a statement or behaviour which is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat of violence, such as leaving a worker a threatening note or threatening an act of violence against a worker.
A continuum of inappropriate and/or unacceptable behaviours can occur at the workplace. This can range from offensive remarks to violence. Workplace harassment may escalate over time. Where harassment, including sexual harassment, in the workplace involves threats, attempts or acts of physical force that causes or could cause physical injury, it would be considered to be workplace violence under the OHSA.
A person does not need to have the capacity to understand that their behaviour could cause physical injury to a worker to be workplace violence under the OHSA. It is important to identify and manage inappropriate and/or unacceptable behaviours early to minimize the potential for these behaviours to lead to workplace violence.
For more information about the Occupational Health and Safety Act definitions for workplace violence and workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, read: OHSA s. 1(1).