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Prevent Bullying and Harassment at Your Workplace

November is a memorial month, to remember those who contributed their lives in the line of duty to fight for peace and freedom. This November also has special meanings for the workforce in the province, as WorkSafeBC approved OHS policies focused on preventing workplace bullying and harassment. The concept of “workplace hazard” keeps evolving, from  the obvious safety hazards, to more subtle chemical/physical exposure. And now it is time to say “NO” to workplace bullying and harassment.

What Constitutes Workplace Bullying and Harassment?

Before discussing the definition of workplace bullying and harassment, I would like to share this workplace video clip with you. Does this account for a workplace bullying and harassment?

According to WorkSafeBC definition, Workplace Bullying and Harassment

  • Include any inappropriate behaviour or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or should have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.
  • DO NOT include any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.

So… if we look at the firing lady, the dismissal decision itself is not workplace bullying and harassment activity. But doing this with mouth full of Chinese food? Probably yes.

Other examples of bullying and harassment include:

  • Vandalizing personal tools/belongings
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Targeted isolations

 

What Shall the Workers Do If He/She Is Bullied at Workplace?

As a worker, you should not engage in bullying and harassment activities. However, if you become the target, you should file a complaint of the incident, any witness, and the detailed description of word/activity. If you are diagnosed with any metal disorder as a result of workplace bullying/harassment, it is covered by WorkSafeBC compensation.

What Shall the Employer Do to Prevent Workplace Bullying and Harassment?

  • Living in a non-ideal world, we all know that managers and supervisors undergo stress and pressure of increasing productivity, reducing cost and keeping the whole system work on a daily basis. That is why they impose management actions on the employee, such as changes in workloads, deadlines, transfers, and disciplinary actions. However, managers and supervisors should ensure performance problems are identified and addressed in a constructive, objective way that does not humiliate or intimidate.
  • Employer should develop a written policy statement declaring that workplace bullying and harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Employers must also make sure workers are made aware of the policy statement.
  • Initiate investigation into filed complaints regarding workplace bullying and harassment.

What Are the Challenges Foreseen?

  • Unlike safety issues or chemical exposure which are quantifiable, it is fairly difficult to draw a cut-off line to define bullying and harassment.
  • We are proud of the cultural diversity of BC, which are reflected in the workplace. Sometimes, cross-cultural misunderstanding can lead to conflict, which can escalate to bullying and harassment.
  • Workplace bullying and harassment might come from multiple sources, such as customers, client, sub-contractors. It requires teamwork between the management, HR, and OHS professional to develop the prevention program.
  • Cyber-bullying (a potential path of bullying and harassment if you mistakenly add your supervisor & coworkers as Facebook/Twitter friends…)

 

Posted on: November 15th, 2013 by Phil Comments

Violence prevention is about training and communication

Violence prevention in the workplace There is increased awareness about preventing violence in the workplace. For example Worksafe BC has introducted new legislation around violence prevention for Late Night Retail outlets. Violence prevention is also a focus in the health care industry, public transportation, public sector and internally in large companies.

Safety programs have traditionally looked at violence prevention as preventing robbery or physical attacks in the workplace. The recent ‘Grant’s Law’ takes this approach. How can we prevent workers at late night retail stores and gas stations from being harmed in a robbery?

Robbery is very real threat with high potential for physical harm to a worker and to the public and should be taken seriously. Setting up a store layout to minimize robbery is important. Establishing safety measures such as pre-pay for fuel is also important. However, it is only part of the picture.

What about the interactions between worker and client that have the potential to escalate into violence? Take the example of workers who come into conflict with the public during customer service. “What’s taking you so long?” “You ran outta…!” “What do you mean, I can’t….?” Throughout the day, workers are faced with verbal threats and aggressive communication. A worker needs training in communication techniques to effectively deal with this type of communication.

Communication techniques that diffuse the potential for violence can prevent incidents. Workers need to be trained how to be assertive without triggering aggression. Often violence prevention training focuses on self-defense. The greatest defense is to prevent attack by de-escalating the situation. Companies can focus on empowering their workers to know how to handle a situation. No physical barriers, security cameras, or security personel can protect workers from verbal threats. A worker must rely on the ability to communicate effectively. Investing in communication training is a critical part of a violence prevention program.

Posted on: July 13th, 2012 by Victoria Comments

The Day of Mourning April 28

This week we collectively grieve workers who have lost their lives or who have been injured on the job. April 28th is a day where we can remember that workplace accidents are real.  They have costs.  It is a moment for us as a society to look in the mirror and choose to do a better job protecting our workers.

This video is intended to inspire us to continue trying.  The message is to keep trying and trying and trying.  Eventually we will succeed.  The story is about a man who was born without arms and legs.  His will to survive is powerful.  His message can serve as an inspiration for those who are disabled because of an accident.  His message is a call to action for all of us to do better.  Let us finish strong together.  Please watch this short video. 

Posted on: April 27th, 2012 by Victoria Comments

The Case for First Aid

 

First Aid

First Aid Pirate Style

 

Recently, I have had numerous General Contractors, subtrades and even home owners ask me this question:  Why do we need first aid coverage?  This is unheard of in residential construction!

If you picked up the phone and asked Worksafe BC this question, they would give you a legal requirement for first aid coverage.  They would talk to you about all employer’s legal mandate to complete a first aid assessment.  They would point you to the Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines to First Aid and your industries assigned hazard rating.  You would look up tables to determine your requirements based on your proximity to a hospital and the number of workers on site.

SURPRISE!!!  Residential construction is rated a high risk industry and a certified Occupational First Aid Level One attendant and supplies are required on site if there is more than one worker on site.  More than 15 workers on site requires a level 2 attendant. 

The prime Contractor is always responsible for first aid provision.  The buck always stops with the prime contractor.  This responsiblity can not be avoided or ignored.  The consequences for failing to provide first aid and an emergency plan are serious.  Under Bill C-45, an employer can be held criminally negligent for failing to take all necessary precautions to prevent an accident on site or to create a safe work place.  If first aid provisions were not made, there would be very serious legal repercussions in the event of an accident.

General Contractors are obviously struggling with this legal burden.  Worksafe allows a General Contractor to delegate first aid duties to the subcontractors.  If a General Contractor does not have his/her own crew, delegating to the subtrades is the only solution, unless the G.C. wants to hire a first aid attendant to be responsible for the site (yes, they are allowed to sweep too!  They just need to be able to respond to an accident, so plan for a means to contact them in case of an emergency.) 

Delegating first aid means that a General Contractor needs to follow up and ensure that the subtrades are actually providing a certified first aid attendant.  It is all about the follow up!!  There is no evidence of due diligence if no one has verified that the system is being followed.

Subtrades can be reluctant to provide first aid because everyone wants to avoid the cost and hassles of scheduling a certified attendant. This is understandable but short sighted. 

  Why wouldn’t you want first aid coverage on a construction site?  Let us look at this from more than a legal argument.

  1. First aid is a critical part of emergency planning.  The OFA 1 course is only a day course.  An attendant will not become a paramedic in a day.  That is not the purpose.  The purpose of first aid training to be able to respond to an emergency in a level headed methodical manner.  A first aid attendant is trained in the priority action approach.  When there is a serious accident, people panic.  There needs to be someone who is designated to take leadership.
  2. A first aid attendant is a natural leader in safety awareness.  This person can be the team lead in organizing personal protective equipment and supplies.  The first aid attendant can be trained to do other safety related duties and to be aware of hazards.
  3. Beyond the job related emergencies, a first aid attendant can be of service for unexpected events.  Stuff happens in and around the job site.  People can have sudden health crisis.  There will be people on site (workers, engineers, clients etc) who have diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy.  Emergencies happen with people choking, tripping or a car accident.  First aid is a gift of empowerment in a moment of crisis.
  4. Be a pro show.  Having appropriate first aid coverage is the sign of professionalism.  Impress people.
  5. Let us address the cost factor.  The OFA 1 course is one day long.  It costs 90$ and your certification is good for 3 years.  The benefits of first aid coverage far outweigh the cost factor.

 

 

 

Posted on: March 3rd, 2012 by Victoria Comments

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