Every worker has a right to a healthy and safe workplace, one that protects them from injury, illness and wage loss. And a healthy and safe workplace must be a respectful one − free of violence and harassment. An amendment to General Regulation 91-191 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, addressing workplace violence and harassment became effective April 1, 2019.
The changes protect New Brunswick’s workers from a wider range of hazards and require all provincial workplaces to develop a code of practice to prevent workplace harassment. Every New Brunswick employer must also conduct a risk assessment for violence and, based on certain criteria, may also be required to develop a code of practice to prevent violence at the workplace.
The following resources will help you understand what your workplace needs to know to comply with the regulation.
There are a few ways that a code of practice on violence could be found to be ineffective, and the remedies vary:
Workplace violence is defined as the attempted or actual use of physical force against an employee, or any threatening statement or behaviour that gives an employee reasonable cause to believe that physical force will be used against the employee, and includes sexual violence, intimate partner violence* and domestic violence
Some examples are: statements or behaviour threatening physical force against an employee, arguments, property damage, sabotage, pushing, physical assault, and anger-related incidents.
“intimate partner violence” means violence committed against a person by another person who is or has been in an intimate personal relationship with the person and includes the following:
(a) abusive, threatening, harassing or violent behaviour used as a means to psychologically, physically, sexually or financially coerce, dominate and control the other member of the relationship; and
(b) deprivation of food, clothing, medical attention, shelter, transportation or other necessities of life.
The regulation defines workplace harassment as any behaviour that is known or should be expected to be known to be unwelcome that would demean, embarrass, humiliate, annoy, alarm or threaten an employee’s health and safety. This can be on a one-time or repeated basis, and includes sexual harassment.
In every workplace, however, conflicts can arise that may be unpleasant, but do not escalate to the point of bullying or harassment. Differences of opinion or minor disagreements are not generally considered to be workplace harassment.
Actions taken by the employer to manage daily operations are considered a normal part of employment, and would not constitute bullying or harassment. This might include:
New Brunswick was one of a few Canadian provinces and territories without legislation to mitigate and prevent workplace violence or harassment.
Stakeholders from a variety of sectors including health care, education, and retail voiced their concerns about sources of violence in their workplaces and its impact on their employees and business. Following consultation with our stakeholders, these changes to legislation were introduced as an extension of the health and safety measures all employers and workers should embrace in their workplace.
Yes. All workplaces that provide the following services are considered a higher risk for violence and must conduct a risk assessment and a code of practice to mitigate and prevent violence.
Some workplaces may not find themselves specifically included in this list, such as cities, town and villages. While not specifically included in the specified services, municipalities are not excluded from the violence regulations. Municipalities should consider the types of work that their employees do. For example, bus transit services are provided by municipalities and must conduct both a risk assessment and develop a code of practice. They should also consider the types of work that may expose their employees to violence. For example, an administrative clerk interacting with clients and taking fine payments or a by-law enforcement employee conducting inspections and issuing fines. Workplaces with multiple types of work activities should consider each type of work when conducting the risk assessment.
The legislation pertaining to harassment will impact all NB workplaces. Each workplace will be required to develop a code of practice to prevent and manage harassment.
However, the legislation addressing workplace violence has two major requirements:
Yes. These include:
Furthermore, the risk of violence may be higher at certain times of the day, night or year. For example:
The regulation is designed to prevent the effects of violence on employees. It does not change how law enforcement should respond to criminal acts of violence. Therefore, if an act of violence at work appears to be criminal in nature (physical assault), law enforcement agencies will need to get involved.
When you’re hurt on the job, WorkSafeNB is there to help you get back to work and feeling like yourself again. We can provide compensation coverage and arrange for treatment.
In the case of workplace harassment and violence, WorkSafeNB can provide compensation coverage to a worker when the incident has resulted in a diagnosable injury or illness. With violence, it may be physical, but for harassment the injury may be psychological. Compensation is available for psychological injuries when they meet the criteria of a traumatic event, which is defined as being exposed to one or more of the following: