Workplace violence and harassment policies updated in Minto

In his report to council, Chief Building Official  Terry Kuipers noted that the Occupational Health and Safety Act was recently amended to include regulations designed to prevent and to deal with violence and harassment occurring in the workplace.

Part of those regulations require employers to establish policies detailing: what is violence, what is harassment, and the steps the employer is taking to prevent and to deal with those issues within the workplace.

Kuipers said Minto’s policies were developed through consultation with municipal employees and the Joint Health and Safety Committee to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding violence and harassment in the workplace.

“In short, this policy defines violence and harassment in the workplace, details what employees, supervisors, joint health and safety committee and the Chief Administrative Officer’s roles are to prevent, mitigate, and manage items of violence and harassment.”

Kuipers said “This policy, once developed, was made available to all staff members and was circulated to council for comments. Several comments were raised through this consultation period and have been implemented in this final draft.”

Mayor David Anderson said the municipality is provincially regulated and mandated to have these policies in place.

Kuipers said that will not just apply to municipalities, but all workplaces with more than five employees.

He offered a brief synopsis of the document as required under Occupational Health and Safety Act as to “who has to do what, why, when, and how.”

Kuipers said it specifically defines violence and harassment, and deals with both issues in the workplace, and what can come into the workplace – such as irate contractors or ratepayers.

He said there are limits to what can be done in all instances “but we have to do the best we can.”

Department heads would deal with violence mitigation measures, and if they are not implemented right away for whatever reason, it would then head to the CAO to determine why.

The joint health and safety committee would be the body that investigates claims of harassment.

The CAO and council would determine disciplinary actions and deal with them as needed.

Deputy-clerk and municipal coordinator Bill Winegard added that in addition to the policy, “There is an obligation to make sure our staff are trained.”

Winegard said that with the cooperation of Centre Wellington, Minto had its manager of human resources up for training and the policies will be included in the employee training manual.

“We’re particularly going to make sure that with all of the safety issues, that summer students are made aware of this policy.” The other item, is risk assessment said Winegard.

That could potentially mead altered lighting inside and outside of municipal buildings.

He said there is an obligation to think ahead, and take appropriate reasonable action.