Looking to ensure worker safety amidst an increase in acts of violence, WorkSafeBC is reminding employers of their obligation to prevent the increasingly common occurrences, and keep employees safe.

According to B.C.’s workers’ compensation board, acts of violence have increased by 25 percent across the province, from 2,292 accepted claims in 2018, to 2,868 in 2022. WorkSafeBC policies require employers to conduct a risk assessment, have procedures and policies in place to protect workers, and provide workers with instruction in the event of a violent incident. A press release by WorkSafeBC said these measures are key, as anyone working with the public is at risk. 

“Unfortunately, the potential for violence exists whenever there is direct interaction between workers and non-workers,” noted Barry Nakahara, seniors manager of prevention field services at WorkSafeBC. 

“Employers must provide a workplace as safe from the threat of violence as possible.”  

Along with the use of policies, procedures, and training to reduce the risk of violent incidents, WorkSafeBC suggested the use of physical barriers, lighting, and public visibility as additional controls. These measures combined, dubbed a ‘violence prevention program,’ should be reviewed on an annual basis to account for changes in the workplace, and ensure its effectiveness. 

WorkSafeBC added in its release that lone workers are especially at risk of violent workplace incidents, particularly those working late-night shifts. The compensation board suggests the use of radio or phone communication for a ‘check-in system,’ where regular interval communication ensures worker safety. Emergency rescue provisions should be in place as a back up. 

“Violence can have a significant physical and psychological impact on workers,” said Nakahara. 

“Employers must identify and address the risk of violence in their workplace and it’s important to involve workers in this process.” 

For more information on the risks of violence in the workplace, along with suggested mitigation efforts, visit www.worksafebc.com.