New occupational safety and health regulations that went into effect last month in Canada’s Northwest Territories include a section on "Harassment" that regulates comments or conduct towards others at a worksite. Workers are prohibited from conducting themselves in ways that they know (or ought to reasonably know) are unwelcome by another worker or is a threat to the health or safety of other workers at a work site.

Harassment definition

What constitutes harassment is spelled out in the rule – although it is fairly broad: comments, displays, action or gestures that are harmful to worker health or safety.

Employers are required to:

  • Ensure the definition of harassment is brought to the attention of its workers ;
  • Make every reasonable effort to ensure no workers are subject to harassment by others; and
  • Implement a confidential investigative process for reporting harassment that complies with the Regulations provisions.

Workplace violence provisions

Under the new regulation, employers must have a written policy that specifically deals with potential violence at worksites where violence has occurred or could reasonably be expected to occur.

Elements of workplace violence policies:

  • Identification of positions at the worksite that may be exposed to violence;
  • Reporting procedures for workers who are exposed to violence in the workplace;
  • Recommendations or referrals for post-incident treatment or counselling for workers exposed to violence; and
  • A commitment to provide training programs for workers to recognize, reduce, and respond to violence in the workplace.

Additionally, an occupational health and safety committee must be established at any worksite where 20 or more employees will be working for more than 90 days. Employees are required to ensure that the workers chosen to be members of the committee represent the health and safety concerns of all workers at the worksite. If a worksite has fewer than 20 workers, the employer must designate at least one worker as an occupational health and safety representative for all the workers at that worksite.