An organization's fitness to compete successfully depends on its social capital-the collective value of people who know each other and what they'll do for each other.

Re-Sources Organizational Support Newsletter

Concerned About Your Workplace Being Ready for Bill 168?

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Bill 168 is the Government of Ontario's amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It came into effect in June 15, 2010. It places new obligations on employers to address workplace violence and harassment. Employers need to review and revise workplace violence and harassment policies, develop programs to implement such policies, and engage in assessments to measure the risk of workplace violence. In addition, work refusal rights and the duties of employers and supervisors have been clarified to specifically apply to workplace violence.

What is New?

Here are the main features of the new amendments to Ontario's Occupational Health & Safety Act:

What Needs to Be Done?

How Can Your EAP Assist You To Be Prepared?

Seen from the mental health perspective, these changes are positive and long overdue. This legislation will actually encode duties & responsibilities that progressive organizations & their unions have already undertaken for years.

Employee-centred Respectful Workplace Trainings have been unofficially dealing with employee workplace violence & culture change for some time.

What Happens When the Rules Change?

Last winter, when Vancouver hosted the Olympics, we will saw Canada compete for gold in many events, including hockey. Isn't it interesting how Olympic hockey, unlike the N.H.L., has no fights despite the fact that most of the players are from the N.H.L. where they have at least one fight a game? Why is that? It's because the players know the rules are different; they know the bar has been raised. With Bill 168, the bar has been raised for intolerance for violence in the workplace and the rules will be explicit for both employers and employees.

Real workplace culture change is based upon the adoption of people-centred values and the group determination to modify the workplace atmosphere.

Policies, procedures & laws like bill 168 and/or Human Rights - give you an outline of appropriate workplace behaviour. Our workplace mental health experience has taught us that the degree to which a workplace adopts respectful attitudes is determined by the culture the employees decide they want. This is in turn influenced by the support of management and/or union(s).

So does this new legislation mean a flood of allegations and/or legal proceedings? Our experience says no. In fact, all employees minus the 5% bully crowd - want to work in respectful workplaces free of harassment, intimidation & discrimination.

The key to successful integration of these values in the workplace is the engagement of all parties management, staff, hourly employees and/or union. When they focus on people-centred group values and hold one another accountable, the changes will occur.

How Do You Implement the New Policies and Procedures?

In a workplace where law suits, investigations & grievances are numerous; this is an indication of a failure of workplace culture and community. Engaged & productive workplace cultures protect their workers from all types of workplace violence and harassment and this promotes organizational success. This is achieved by involving all levels of the organization in the process, leading to the mature workplace as a primarily self-policing entity, with employees holding one another responsible for their behaviours.

Ron Sparrow is a counsellor, trainer and principal partner at Source Line Inc., a Workplace Wellness and EAP company in Toronto.