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How to Prepare for New Brunswick’s Updated Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy Requirements

28 March 2019 by Barteaux Labour & Employment Lawyers Inc.

There are changes coming to New Brunswick’s Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations on April 1, 2019. The new regulations require all employers to develop and implement a written code of practice for the prevention of harassment in their workplaces. Certain employers will also be required to develop a code of practice for managing violence in the workplace. 

Which requirements apply to my organization?

The regulations require all employers to do the following:

  • Establish and keep up-to-date a written code of practice for harassment at the place of employment to ensure the health and safety of employees to the extent possible.
  • Perform a risk assessment analyzing the likelihood of violence in their workplace.
  • Implement a training program about all codes of practice in their workplace for all employees and supervisors. 

In addition, certain employers must also develop a code of practice for managing violence in the workplace, including:

  • Employers with 20 or more employees
  • Employers whose assessments indicate a significant risk of violence
  • Employers in certain listed industries (including pharmacies, education and child care providers, home support services, taxi and public transportation services, security services, veterinary services and retail services)   

How to perform a risk assessment

When doing a risk assessment, work with any committees or health and safety representatives already in place at your workplace. If your organization doesn’t have health and safety representatives, consult directly with employees. 

The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify risks that originate from the workplace and nature of the particular work, and also to identify risks of violence that could occur at the place of employment but originate from other sources (such as domestic violence).

Things to consider when preparing a risk assessment report are:

  • the location and circumstances in which the work is carried on;
  • the categories of employees at risk;
  • the types of work that place employees at risk of experiencing violence;
  • the possible effects on the health or safety of employees who are exposed to violence;
  • previous incidents of violence at the place of employment; and
  • incidents of violence in similar places of employment.

Once complete, the report should be made available to your organization’s health and safety committee and representatives. It should be reviewed and updated whenever any of the factors listed above change and whenever there is an incident of violence in the workplace. 

How to develop a code of practice

The regulations list what must be included in your code of practice, so make sure you that you review the requirements closely.  Ensure you take enough time to deliberate on what is needed in your organization.  Consider the following:

  • Who is the best person in your organization to have responsibility for implementing the code of practice? 
  • What procedures will be followed? 
  • How should employees report incidents? 
  • How will the employer investigate? 
  • What privacy measures need to be in place? 
  • How will the employer address the recommendations that come out of an investigation? 
  • What training programs are needed? 

Once you’ve taken the time to plan, include the details in your code of practice. 

Implementation and Training

It is important not to drop the ball at this final stage. Once you have a procedure in place, it should be followed consistently.  All employees and supervisors should be trained in the codes of practice. Training records should be maintained in employee personnel files and the organization’s records. The codes of practice should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as needed. 

This publication provides general information and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. Should you have any questions or require legal advice, we would be pleased to assist you with any matters related to the subject matter of this publication or any legal services provided by Barteaux Labour and Employment Lawyers Inc. Please contact us for assistance.
Posted by Barteaux Labour & Employment Lawyers Inc.

Barteaux Labour and Employment Lawyers Inc. is Atlantic Canada’s only homegrown management-side labour and employment law boutique, now offering immigration law as a core area of practice. We assist all kinds of employers, from multi-national corporations to non-profits, public bodies, and small businesses across a broad range of industries. We have a diverse team providing services to a varied group of clients.