In our first edition of Safety Insight we told you that effective February 1, 2011 a new Workplace Safety and Health regulation in Manitoba introduced new requirements to protect workers from psychological harassment in the workplace. The new regulation covers psychological harassment such as intimidation, bullying and humiliation. This builds on other measures that protect workers from harassment based on age, race or gender and the intent is to ensure that workplaces are respectful and safe for everyone. Now that the new regulation has been in place for a few months you may wonder how it is being enforced. The following provides some information regarding process when a workplace harassment complaint is filed with the Workplace Safety and Health Division:
– When a complaint regarding harassment in the workplace has been made, a designated Harassment Prevention Officer (HPC) will do an initial assessment and will determine if the alleged actions fall under the definition of harassment in the workplace, and if the employer has met their obligations under the regulation to develop and implement a policy and instruct workers on harassment prevention in the workplace. It should be noted that the Workplace Safety and Health Division does not have the authority to order anyone to be compensated for harassment that may have occurred. Rather the Division can only direct the employer to develop and implement a harassment prevention policy and to take reasonably practicable action to provide a work environment free of harassment.
– Where it appears that the matters fall within the definition, an investigation will be conducted to ensure that the employer complied with the “Harassment Prevention” regulatory requirements.
– If the employer does not have a Harassment Prevention Policy in place, the HPC will contact the employer advising them of the regulatory requirement and will provide the employer with the necessary resources to assist them with compliance. The employer will be required to provide a copy of their Harassment Prevention Policy to the Workplace Safety and Health Division once developed. The policy will then be reviewed to ensure it contains all necessary information.
– If the investigation reveals that a policy is in place but the employer has not implemented any control measures to stop the harassment, an improvement order may be issued.
One component of a healthy workplace is an environment free from harassment. The employer’s process is key. The harassment prevention policy must explain how to make a formal complaint about harassment, how the complaint will be investigated, and how the complainant and the person accused of harassment will be informed of the results of the investigation. Employers must post a copy of the policy in a place where everyone in the workplace can see it easily. For more information on how to create a workplace free from harassment contact us at [email protected]
This article fist appeared in the June 2011 edition of “Safety In Sight”, the newsletter of On-Site Safety & Health Management Solutions. This edition also included news about additions to the On-Site Safety team. Check it out here.
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