U of T has established a workplace violence program to summarize and streamline the university’s many violence-related safety policies. The program comes in response to Bill 168, an act to amend Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.
According to U of T’s Human Resources and Equity website, workplace violence specifically means “the exercise[…]the attempt to exercise[…]and statement or behavior 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.”
Campus safety protocols are currently set by a variety of offices including the Community Safety Office, Environmental Health and Safety, the Organizational Development and Learning Centre, and the Campus Police.
Addressed strictly toward U of T staff and faculty, the program includes a mechanism for centralized reporting of incidents of workplace violence that are forwarded to the VP of Human Resources and Equity Office.
“[Reported incidents] may come in through community safety office or through an HR office, but they all get reported [to the VP of Human Resources and Equity Office],” says Christina Sass-Kortsak, Assistant VP of the Human Resources and Equity Office.
“That really allows us to ensure that every situation goes appropriately addressed and that we have a way of identifying some of the systemic issues that you might only really see if you look at a pattern over a period of time.”
According to Sass-Kortstak, U of T currently has no statistics on the frequency of workplace violence on campus, but “we’re in the course of trying to pull together some of those, [and] in the future that’s going to be a lot easier to gather because we will be getting this information centralized.”
One of the program’s methods of controlling risk involves disclosing an employee’s previous history of committing physical violence to those who expect to interact with the employee.
“We’re very mindful of employee privacy, but that has to be balanced with employee safety,” says Sass-Kortsak. “We would only disclose as much information as required to protect an employee.”
Although the program does not directly address students, some training workshops provided through the Community Safety Office and Campus Police, are available to students.