While the media has traditionally focused on the spectacular, but very rare instances of extreme workplace violence, the reality in most workplaces is very different. Occurrences of uttered threats, pushing, bumping, slapping, biting, aggressive gesturing or posturing, and elevated and inappropriate vocalizing are the more frequently encountered forms of violence in the workplace and threats of violence.

Incidents of workplace violence are on the rise in the Canadian workplace. 20% of violent victimization in Canada occurs in the workplace; with over 365,000 incidents reported annually. Workplace violence is not limited to incidents that occur within a traditional workplace. Work-related violence can occur at off-site business-related functions (conferences, trade shows), at social events related to work, in clients’ homes or away from work but resulting from work (a threatening telephone call to your home from a client). Two thirds of incidents of workplace violence in Canada are committed by someone known to the victim.

Canadian employers have a legislated duty to provide their employees with a workplace free from risk of physical or psychological threats or harm. It’s important that management be committed to dealing with incidents involving violence, harassment and other unacceptable behaviour. Comprehensive workplace violence policies and procedures are required and employers should encourage employees to report such incidents. Written policies should at a minimum, inform employees about:

  • What behaviour is inappropriate and unacceptable in the workplace including; intimidation, bullying, harassment.
  • What to do when incidents of workplace violence occur.
  • Contacts for reporting incidents.
  • Investigation process/procedures that may take place.
  • Disciplinary process and termination. 


Bill 168, Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009

  • (a)  the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker,
  • (b)  an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker,
  • (c)  a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker.


  • 20% of violent incidents occur in the workplace
  • 46% of workplace violence victims believe the incident is related to the perpetrator’s use of drugs or alcohol
  • 33% of workplace violence incidents occur in social services and healthcare sectors
  • 45% of victims suffer stress-related health problems


  • Workplace harassment: engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.
  • Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour directed towards a worker, or group of workers, that creates a risk to health and safety.
  • Workplace mobbing is ongoing, systematic bullying of an individual by his or her colleagues.

Call one of our CIS representatives at 1-800-561-0574 for a complimentary consultation on any Workplace Violence issue.