Workplace violence and harassment

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.

Developing Workplace Violence and Harassment Codes of Practice

Sample Templates

There are a few ways that a code of practice on violence could be found to be ineffective, and the remedies vary:

  • An employee could identify deficiencies to the joint health and safety committee, health and safety representative or to the employer. In this case, the employer should consider the issue that was identified and assess the alternatives available to fix the issue.
  • The required annual review of the code of practice may identify opportunities to improve the code. Recommendations to improve the code of practice should be communicated to the employer. The employer should consider the recommendations and provide a response.
  • With respect to the code of practice for violence, your workplace could revisit your risk assessment to determine if all identified risks were captured and incorporated in the code.
  • A health and safety officer may visit your workplace to conduct an inspection, respond to a complaint or investigate an incident. An officer who determines that the code of practice on violence is incomplete or ineffective may issue compliance orders, with instructions to review or revise the code.


Date: July 4, 2019

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.


Date: February 15, 2019

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:

  • Hiring and firing employees
  • Performance evaluations and/or performance corrective actions
  • Staff assignments, transfers or restructuring
  • Periodic workload fluctuations and/or assignment changes
  • Timeline pressures
  • General work environment, including health and safety concerns, and union issues

Date: February 15, 2019

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.

Date: February 15, 2019

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. 

  • Emergency services (police, fire departments, ambulance services)
  • Health care services, including veterinary medicine and pharmaceutical service providers
  • Teaching
  • Early learning and licensed child care facilities
  • Home support services
  • Retail sales (including convenience stores, licensed cannabis retail outlets, and premises licensed to provide alcohol)
  • Financial services (banks, credit unions)
  • Gaming services, such as casinos
  • Hired transportation services (public and private) for goods or persons
  • Mental health and social services (social work, support work, outreach work, crisis intervention)
  • Private investigation services
  • Public services (provincial government departments and agencies, and those who supply products or services to government  agencies) 

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.

Date: February 15, 2019

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:

  1. All NB workplaces will be required to conduct a risk assessment to determine the likelihood of violence.
  2. A code of practice will be required under certain circumstances that are found in sections 374.2 (3) and (4).


Date: February 15, 2019

 Yes. These include:

  • Working with the public (receptionists, retail workers)
  • Handling money, valuables or prescription drugs (cashiers, pharmacists)
  • Carrying out inspection or enforcement duties (health and safety officer, by-law enforcement)
  • Working with unstable or volatile persons (social services, health care, criminal justice system)
  • Providing service, care, advice or education (health care, teachers)
  • Working on premises where alcohol is served (food and beverage staff)
  • Working in a mobile workplace (taxis, public transit). 

Furthermore, the risk of violence may be higher at certain times of the day, night or year. For example:

  • Late-night or early-morning hours
  • Tax return season
  • Overdue utility bill cut-off dates
  • Holidays
  • Paydays
  • Performance appraisals
  • Report cards or parent interviews

Date: February 15, 2019
  • Violence and harassment affects the safety and security of employees, customers, clients and business owners.
  • It claims a high personal cost from the emotional trauma and physical injury experienced by victims, their families and co-workers.
  • It brings high costs to the employer.


Date: February 15, 2019

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.

Date: February 15, 2019

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:

  • Death
  • Threat of death
  • Actual or threatened serious injury
  • Actual or threatened sexual violence

Date: February 15, 2019

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Additional Ressources

Workplace Violence Toolkit for Nursing Homes

Commentary: Workplace law reforms overdue

It’s your Business- A domestic & Intimate Partner Violence Workplace Toolkit

Presentation: It’s your Business- A domestic & Intimate Partner Violence Workplace Toolkit

Support Services for Victims of Abuse

Breaking Workplace Silence

Remote Work and Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence 



Bullying and Harassment in Construction


Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence Workplace Toolkit

When domestic or intimate partner violence (DIPV) enters the workplace, everyone feels the negative consequences. By taking action through policies, practices, public education and good corporate citizenship, your workplace will be modeling values that show concern and respect for the individual. By supporting employees dealing with the impacts of DIPV in the workplace, you will be creating a safe, respectful and healthy environment.

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