Preventing violence in the workplace
The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the Act) contains protections for workers against violence in the workplace. Section 3-21 of the Act outlines the employer's responsibility for developing and implementing written policy statement and prevention plan (PSPP). Currently, high-risk sector workplaces are required to develop and implement the PSPP. An amendment to the Act will require all workplaces have a PSPP in place by May 17, 2024.
What is workplace violence?
Violence is the attempted, threatened or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause an injury. This includes any threatening statement or behaviour that gives a worker reasonable cause to believe the worker is at the risk of an injury.
Which employers are required to have a policy statement on violence and prevention plan?
As of May 17, 2024, The Saskatchewan Employment Act will require that all workplaces in Saskatchewan implement a policy statement and prevention plan (PSPP) to eliminate workplace violence. Until the provisions come into force, only prescribed workplaces in high risk industries are required to continue having a PSPP.
Who must prevent workplace violence?
The Act requires employers and supervisors to protect workers from workplace violence and all workers (including students, independent and dependent contractors and volunteers) must refrain from participating in or carrying out acts of violence. These workplace parties must work together to create a safety culture and practices that eliminate workplace violence.
Who is protected from violence in the workplace?
Under The Saskatchewan Employment Act and The Saskatchewan Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 (the Regulations), all provincially regulated workers are protected against workplace violence. For the purposes of violence prevention in the workplace, workers are defined in the Act and include: all employees, supervisors, and students, independent and dependent contractors or volunteers that are permitted by an employer to perform work or who are trained by an employer.
Is a policy statement and prevention plan necessary for a workplace that is not in a prescribed high-risk industry?
The Act requires that a policy statement and prevention plan for all employers, be in place by May 17, 2024, even if the business or operation is not in a prescribed high-risk industry.
Will violence prevention obligations differ for high-risk workplaces compared to those that have less identifiable risks of violence?
No. All workplaces are equally obliged to abide by the laws that prevent workplace violence.
Occupational health and safety provisions pertaining to the prevention of workplace violence will apply to all workplaces regardless of the risk level.
Late night retail premises may have additional requirements to meet under the Act. Workplaces where the incidence of violence is known to be high-risk may need to include extra mitigation measures in their PSPP to reduce or eliminate specific risks. Employers must exercise due diligence and determine what is appropriate in their workplaces.
Employers are in a prescribed high-risk sector if they are operating in any of the following industries:
- services provided by health care facilities;
- pharmaceutical-dispensing services;
- education services;
- police services;
- corrections services;
- other law enforcement services;
- security services;
- crisis counseling and intervention services;
- late night retail premises as defined in the regulations;
- financial services;
- the sale of alcoholic beverages or the provision of premises for the consumption of alcoholic beverages;
- taxi services; and
- transit services.
All PSPPs need to be tailored to the risks identified for a particular workplace. Mitigation and preventive measures, engineering controls and practices in the PSPP must respond appropriately to reduce or eliminate the risks identified for that workplace.
What needs to be included in a policy statement on violence and prevention plan?
The policy statement on violence and prevention plan must include:
- the employer's commitment to minimize and eliminate risk and review and update the plan every three years;
- identification of the worksite(s) where violent situations have occurred or may occur;
- identification of staff positions that have or could be exposed to violent situations;
- the procedures to inform workers about the nature and risk of violence at their place of employment, and any information the employer has about persons who have a history of violent behaviour who could become a risk to the workers;
- the actions an employer will take to minimize and eliminate the risk of violence including:
- providing personal protective equipment;
- establishing administrative arrangements; and
- engineering controls (e.g., surveillance cameras).
- the procedures for reporting a violent incident to the employer;
- the procedures the employer will follow to investigate violent incidents;
- a recommendation that workers who have been exposed to violent incidents consult a physician for treatment or obtain a referral for counseling; and
- a commitment to provide a training program for workers that includes information about:
- how to recognize potentially violent situations,
- procedures, work practices, administrative arrangements and engineering controls that have been developed for their protection;
- how to respond to violent incidents and obtain assistance;
- procedures for reporting violent incidents.
When preparing a violence policy statement and prevention plan, employers are required to consult and co‑operate with the occupational health committee, occupational health and safety representative, or where there is no committee or representative, the workers.
The violence policy statement and prevention plan must be in writing and readily available to all employees. Readily available means that the employer must be able to produce the information at the time it is requested by a worker or an occupational health and safety officer. Records can be stored electronically as long as employees can access a computer when they need the information.
Refer to section 3-26 and 3-27 of The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 to learn more about the regulatory requirements for a violence policy statement and prevention plan.