Violence in the Workplace
Last updated: May 20, 2021
If you need immediate help with a potential targeted threat of violence:
- Call 911 if you believe there is immediate danger
- Contact the BC Public Service Agency's 24-hour emergency safety line at 1-250-952-0911
- This number is for employees of the BC Provincial Government and their managers only. If you are not employed by the BC Provincial Government please call WorkSafe BC at 1-888-621-SAFE (7233)
WorkSafeBC defines violence as "the attempted or actual exercise by a person, other than a worker, of any physical force so as to cause injury to a worker, and includes any threatening statement or behaviour which gives a worker reasonable cause to believe that he or she is at risk of injury."
Violence or conflict between co-workers is covered under the Workplace Conduct regulation and the BC Public Service Standards of Conduct. It's the supervisor's responsibility to manage.
Violence isn't just a physical assault. It also includes threats, verbal abuse, intimidation and the spillover of domestic violence into the workplace. All staff play a vital role in preventing violence by following safe work procedures, reporting incidents, and helping with risk assessments or investigations.
When there is a risk of violence, employees need training in:
- How to recognize potential violence
- Workplace-specific violence prevention procedures, such as de-escalation
- Response to violent incidents
- Reporting violent incidents
- Accessing counselling and support
All violent or potentially violent incidents require an investigation and follow up. Supervisors should review the violence prevention program regularly. Visit Managing Occupational Health & Safety's Violence in the Workplace to learn about supervisor responsibilities.
Targeted threat of violence and threat assessment
There may be times that you or your workplace face a possible targeted threat of violence, either internal or external. This threat may come to your attention through:
- A call from a co-worker, client or other party
- A discipline/termination process
- Directly by another person
If you're faced with a possible targeted threat of violence, talk to your supervisor immediately.
The BC Public Service Agency and the Government Security Office, Risk Management Branch has a comprehensive program to manage internal or external threats of violence targeting employees and public service workplaces. Together, we offer a confidential assessment to determine the level and nature of a threat posed by an individual or group, and provide strategies to help manage the risk.