In April 2007, Nova Scotia launched its workplace violence prevention strategy. The strategy, led by Labour and Advanced Education, is a multi-faceted approach for dealing with violence in workplaces in Nova Scotia. It is designed to engage employers and employees to ensure that workplaces remain safe and productive.
Workplace violence can carry a real cost in terms of lost workdays and a financial burden on society. The Workers’ Compensation Board is the primary source of statistical information available to the Occupational Health and Safety Division.
Since 2002, there have been 1,768 Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) claims where the cause of injury is “act of violence,” with a total claim costs of $2,001,370. On average there are 412 claims per year costing an average of $417,973.00 per year.
One significant part of the strategy is the Workplace Violence Prevention regulations. While employers have always had an obligation to protect employees from hazards in the workplace or work-related sites, including the risk of violence, the Regulations specifically address workplace violence as an occupational health and safety issue.
The strategy builds on elements of the Occupational Health and Safety system set out in the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Many things common to achieving an organization’s health and safety objectives, such as hazard or risk assessments and consultation with employees or their representatives, are detailed in the strategy document, A Workplace Violence Prevention Strategy for Nova Scotia: Promoting Greater Awareness of Workplace Violence Prevention (PDF: 690k).
It is expected that workplaces which implement the strategy will move closer to a proactive safety culture where measures are taken that specifically prevent or eliminate workplace violence. The provincial strategy is facilitating that move with education materials, training, written resources, and other tools. These resources and tools will help employers and employees to understand violence risk assessments and prevention plans. Most importantly, they will increase understanding of the issue. This is a critical first step toward reducing the number and severity of workplace violence incidents in Nova Scotia workplaces.