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Bill 168 Training for Ontario Employers

Prevention of harassment in the workplace and prevention of violence in the workplace are the focus of Bill 168 which took effect June 15, 2010. An employer in Ontario is now required to have policies in place as part of the prevention process. Even if your business is located in another province in Canada, you may have similar requirements to prevent harassment and violence in the workplace. In addition to a legal requirement to meet provincial health and safety regulations it is also good business to create a positive culture and environment for your employees, free from harassing behaviours and incidents of violence.

Harassment Prevention

Prevention of harassment starts with a clear definition of what harassment is, and what harassment is not, with a focus on the actions or behaviour of individuals in the workplace. The next step is to develop a policy on behalf of the organization stating their commitment to prevent harassing actions and behaviour. Implementing a harassment prevention policy can be achieved with two procedures, one for the reporting of an incident of harassment; and a second for the investigation and resolution of a report of harassment.

The following are 4 steps for a Harassment Prevention program:

  1. Write a Harassment Prevention Policy – this is the starting point for your harassment prevention program as it includes the definition of what is meant by harassment in the workplace and any related terms of reference people need to understand. A key part of your harassment policy is a statement from your leadership, that harassing behaviour will not be tolerated.
  2. Communicate and Educate Workers – the harassment prevention policy must be communicated with each employee. This can be done by distributing a copy of the policy, or through training and education sessions with employees.
  3. Create an Incident Report Procedure – procedures are how policy is implemented. You need a step by step guide or checklist for employees to follow to report an incident of harassment. This is often a form that clearly indicates what information is necessary, who the form is to be submitted to, or if you have questions who to contact, and what to expect once an incident is reported.
  4. Create an Incident Investigation Procedure – this procedure is also a step by step guide or checklist of what happens once an Incident Report is received. It includes the actions someone will take to collect and analyze the facts around the incident, and what action will occur as a result. It is important to maintain and update your harassment policy and procedure materials, especially after any incident to ensure they are effective and efficient.

Violence Prevention

The requirement to have a violence prevention policy is also part of Bill 168 in Ontario, and like the harassment prevention, it is also required in many other jurisdictions as part of health and safety legislation. Where there is a risk of violence in the workplace, this is a hazard, to which workers have the right to be aware of and the company needs to take steps to educate their employees on the risks and take steps to prevent violence from occurring.

The establishment of a violence prevention program is similar to the harassment prevention program, with the addition of one step at the start of the process. The employer begins the process with a review of the current risks of violence in the workplace and where risks exist ensures employees are aware and educated or trained on violence prevention procedures.

For example, where you have public access, there may be a greater risk of violence. Where cash is known to be present, there may be a greater risk of violence. A regular review is required to be aware of any changes in conditions and the environment, for the potential to create or increase the risk of violence.

Policy Creation, Implementation and Proof

Once the policy has been created, it must be communicated with all employees. In some situations this is extended to include volunteer, and others in the workplace such as suppliers and subcontractors. Implementation includes the communicating of the policy through distribution of the materials, posting of the policy document in a prominent place, reviewing with employees and newly hired employees.

It is becoming more important to be able to show what actions you have taken, to create some level of proof that would convince a third party that you have in fact educated or trained your employees on your policy, some evidence that they understood it and some acknowledgement that they have agreed to follow the policy.

This element of proof is typically a signed form or agreement acknowledging the existence of the policy, their review or the policy, any testing records verifying their understanding, and a signature indicating their agreement to comply with the policy.

Would you like to manage your Bill 168 training online? We can help you set up a harassment prevention policy online, and a violence prevention policy and procedures. Your employees have controlled access to the policy materials which you are able to monitor and manage. Call us toll free at 1-877-425-5820 or email

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