Workplace Violence Prevention

Violence is an act that includes any threatening statements, gestures to an individual or others or any form of physical aggression.

Workplace Violence Prevention

Certain jobs and work environments may present a risk of injury to employees arising from violence. Risk factors include activities where employees interact with members of the public, handle money in retail settings, work with pharmaceutical drugs or work after-hours.

What is workplace violence?

Violence in the workplace is any incidents of violence including attempted or actual assaults, or any threatening statement or behaviour, towards an employee by any person other than a co-worker, which give the employee reasonable cause to believe that he or she is at risk of injury (WorkSafeBC OHS 4.27-4.31).

At UBC Vancouver, any violent incidents or concerns about personal security should be reported immediately to Campus Security at 604-822-2222 and your supervisor for follow-up.

If there is an identified potential or actual risk of injury from violence, your department must establish procedures to control the risk.

Register for the on-line Workplace Violence Prevention training.

^ Back to Top

Why is workplace violence important?

UBC is committed to providing a safe environment for all members of the University community. Although workplace violence at UBC is not common, it can cause physical and emotional harm. The University is committed to preventing workplace violence and responding appropriately if threats or acts of violence do occur. All members of the University community are responsible for creating and maintaining a safe environment.

UBC has policies in place that address personal security issues SC1 Health & Safety Policy and SC13 At-Risk Behaviour Policy.

^ Back to Top

What are supervisor/department responsibilities for workplace violence?

If there is an identified potential or actual risk of injury from violence, your supervisor or department must establish procedures to control the risk. A workplace violence risk assessment must be performed and workplace controls measures implemented to eliminate or minimize the risk.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment must be performed in any workplace in which a risk of injury to workers from violence arising out of their employment may be present.

  1. The risk assessment must include the consideration of:
    • previous experience in that workplace,
    • occupational experience in similar workplaces, and
    • the location and circumstances in which work will take place.
  1. The risk assessment may include the consideration of:
    • layout and condition of the workplace, including furniture placement, the existence of barriers between workers and the public, lighting, and methods of access and egress;
    • extent and nature of contact with persons other than fellow workers;
    • experience, skills and training of the workers;
    • existing work procedures, for example, when interacting with the public;
    • existing violence prevention initiatives or programs;
    • communication methods by which, for example, information about risks, incidents or threats of violence or requests for assistance may be sent;
    • staff deployment and scheduling, including the extent to which persons work at night, work alone, are checked when working alone and the availability of backup assistance.

Download the UBC Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Tool (fill-able WORD document).

Workplace Control Measures

Departments are required to implement workplace control measures to eliminate or minimize the risk of violence. Managers will need to evaluate their unique work activities and environments to determine which controls should be selected.

Controls are all the practical measures you can take to prevent and protect against workplace violence. The goals are:

  1. First, try to eliminate the risk
  2. If you cannot eliminate the risk, reduce it
  3. If this is not possible, protect against the risk

It is important to review the controls on a regular basis. This helps to determine whether maintenance is required on current controls or if further corrective action is required. The measures will typically involve a combination of engineering or administrative controls focusing on enhancing communication systems and supervision.

Engineering Controls

The physical arrangement, design or alteration of workstations, equipment, materials, or other aspects of the physical work environment:

  • Communication systems (e.g. cell phones, 2-way radios, intercoms)
  • Location systems (e.g. closed-circuit cameras)
  • Alarms or personal emergency call devices
  • Workstation/area redesign (e.g. line-of-sight and access/egress improvements)

Administrative Controls

The provision, use and scheduling of work activities and resources in the workplace, including planning, organizing, staffing and coordinating:

  • Establish a check-in procedure to ensure the well-being of the worker is known
  • Schedule moderately hazardous work during regular business hours so that other people are more likely to be in the vicinity
  • Implement a “buddy system” for certain activities where workers are more isolated
  • Restrict the amount of time young or inexperienced workers are permitted to work alone
  • Increase the frequency of direct supervision for young or inexperienced workers.

Once control measures are implemented it is essential that supervisors educate and train their employees, ensure that communication and check-in procedures are effective, and review all procedures annually in consultation with employees.

^ Back to Top

What is the process for reporting and investigating?


  • All Workers have the obligation under the Act to report incidents of Workplace Violence that are experienced or witnessed to their Supervisor/Manager.
  • If the Worker’s Supervisor/Manager is involved in the Workplace Violence, the Worker shall contact the next level Supervisor/Manager. In all cases, the Worker shall follow the reporting procedures as outlined below.

Complaints that Pose an Immediate Risk of Physical Injury

  • The Worker or the Supervisor/Manager shall immediately call Campus Security 604-822-2222 or 911 if a crime is in progress. The Worker must also immediately notify his or her Supervisor/Manager.
  • If required, the Supervisor/Manager shall arrange for a safe place to work that is as near as reasonably possible to the Worker’s usual work site. The affected Worker(s) must continue to work in the safe place and be available for the investigation until there is no further risk of Violence.

Complaints that do not pose an Immediate Risk of Physical Injury

  • A Worker who experiences Workplace Violence or who has concerns regarding possible incidents of Workplace Violence (the Complainant) shall report the incident to his or her Supervisor/Manager.
  • The Supervisor/Manager shall review the complaint and consider whether an informal resolution to the complaint is possible.
  • The Supervisor/Manager must report the incident through the UBC Centralized Accident Incident Reporting System (UBC CAIRS).

Informal Resolution

  • A Supervisor/Manager who receives a complaint of Workplace Violence which appears to be capable of resolution informally shall use reasonable efforts to assist the Complainant in effecting informal resolution within ten days of receiving the complaint.
  • The Supervisor/Manager assesses the immediate risk, gathers information and documents the concern within two days of receiving the complaint. The parties should receive a copy of the complaint and have the opportunity to respond in writing.
  • If the complaint involves a student and the incident involves student misconduct, the concern is then referred to the Associate Director, Student Conduct & Safety, Vice President Students Office.
  • Efforts at informal resolution should include individual meetings with the parties as appropriate. The Worker/s may request union representation at the meeting. The parties may decide to meet as a group to resolve the issue.
  • The Supervisor/Manager may request assistance from the Human Resources or Faculty Relations.
  • If informal resolution is not possible then the Supervisor/Manager shall contact Human Resources or Faculty Relations for guidance through the formal investigative process.

^ Back to Top