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Workplace Violence Prevention & Response Program

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Ryerson has several policies that address various forms of workplace violence and harassment. All faculty and staff are encouraged to review the details outlined here, as well as the policies and related procedures linked to below. This Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Program supports these policies. 

What is Workplace Violence?

The Occupational Health and Safety Act defines workplace violence as:

  • the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker;
  • an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; or
  • a statement or behaviour that it is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker. 

Workplace violence may include, but is not limited to:

  • verbally threatening to attack an employee,
  • leaving threatening notes at or sending threatening emails in a workplace,
  • wielding a weapon at work,
  • hitting or trying to hit a worker,
  • throwing an object at a worker, or
  • sexual violence against a worker.

Accessing immediate support

In an emergency situation

In an emergency on campus, call 911. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency, you should call 911. It's better to be safe and let the dispatcher determine if you need emergency assistance. 

In a non-emergency situation

There may be times when you are in need of assistance that is not of an emergency nature. These situations do not pose an immediate threat to you, others or property, but are valid security matters that require immediate support. Ryerson Security is also available to you anywhere on campus, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more about accessing support in non-emergencies, visit Non-Emergency Situations on the Community Safety and Security website.

It is also recommended that you program Ryerson Security’s phone number into your mobile device:

External phones: 416-979-5040
Internal phones: 555040
Email: security@ryerson.ca
Location: Victoria Building (VIC), 285 Victoria Street, 1st floor

Roles and responsibilities

At Ryerson, a number of departments work together to prevent, respond to and support individuals in the event of workplace violence.

Department Role and responsibilities
Community Safety and Security
  • Supports emergency situations by working with internal and external stakeholders to mitigate immediate safety and security matters as well as those that do not pose an immediate threat to community members or property.
  • Performs risk assessments and investigates in a supportive function, or as part of a multidisciplinary team.
Environmental Health and Safety
  • Reviews the program annually with the Joint Health and Safety Committee.
  • Provide support for personal safety planning in accordance with the working alone program.
  • Supports investigations of reported workplace violence incidents.
Human Rights Services
  • Offers confidential complaint resolution services for human rights and sexual violence issues.
Human Resources
  • Provides consultation and advice to employees and leaders on matters related to workplace violence and harassment. 
  • Provides eLearning training.
Workplace Violence Prevention and Response Program Working Group
  • Comprised of members of all above offices and departments to consult and address incidents of violence.

Policies

Program components

Ryerson offers the following measures and procedures to mitigate the risks that may expose someone to physical injury.

RyersonSafe is the university’s tool for mass notification that will send alerts in urgent situations that pose an immediate safety or security risk to the community.

Security systems infrastructure services are available to support the planning and management of security on campus. This may include building perimeter systems and client systems, which can include card readers, door contact alarms, locking automation, motion detectors, security cameras, mirrors, panic buttons and more.

WalkSafe Program is a free service that pairs Ryerson community members - including visitors - with a uniformed security crew member to escort you to various locations on campus, including the subway and nearby parking lots. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Personal Safety Planning Sessions prioritize your personal safety and provide you with scenario-based guidance, tools and resources so you can make informed decisions.

Ryerson's Joint Health and Safety Committee is the primary vehicle by which workers participate in decisions affecting their health and safety.

Training and Workshops

The Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention eLearning is mandatory for all Ryerson employees and should be completed within two weeks of your start date at the university. It will help you to assess the risks of workplace violence and understand your duty to report concerning behaviour. Learn how to access the program by visiting Required eLearning.

Community Safety and Security provides workshops and training opportunities aimed at empowering you to take action and develop skills to more confidently respond to potentially concerning and aggressive behaviour. 

Reporting an Incident

If there is an imminent threat of violence, Community Safety and Security should be contacted immediately.

Ryerson community members can report incidents or complaints of workplace violence and harassment verbally or in writing. Incidents can be reported to:

  • Human Resources
  • Human Rights Services
  • Consent Comes First Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education 
  • Community Safety and Security
  • Union
  • Leader

What happens when a complaint is received?

When a complaint is received, it is reviewed, and a triage team is assembled with all of the necessary departments and stakeholders. This team reviews all of the available information and determines next steps based on the nature of the complaint and the details that have been provided.

HR then evaluates which policy (or policies) the complaint falls under, and follows the applicable process.

If it is determined that an investigation is necessary, the team will decide if it should be performed by an internal or external investigator. It is important to note that not all complaints will require further investigation in order to come to a resolution.

Should an investigation take place, the respondent will be informed of the complaint and of all relevant details in order to respond appropriately. Support will be provided to employees during this time and is determined on a case-by-case basis (e.g. workplace accommodations, Employee and Family Assistance Program).

When the investigation is complete, the complainant will be informed of the outcome, and what actions have been taken if applicable.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are designed to assist students, faculty and staff through the process of predetermining the necessary control measures prior to the start of work, purchase of equipment or planned event. The resources below support the risk assessment process.

The Violence-Risk Assessment Procedure provides an overview of the violence risk assessment process.

Research risk assessments should be completed prior to beginning research.

Event risk assessments are available to help ensure that the staff, faculty and students organizing and attending the events are safe and successful.

Supervisors (e.g. departmental chairs, deans or directors, principal investigators (PI), activity leaders) should follow these steps in order to conduct a Field Studies Risk Assessment for field studies that are considered medium, high or extreme risk.

Prior to travel, please access the services and online resources at Ryerson International to register as a traveler and complete a travel risk assessment.

While working alone or in isolation is not always hazardous, it can present risks due to the nature of work and has the potential to affect the health and safety of those involved. Individuals who are working alone should complete a working alone risk assessment.

Additional supports

If you need support, you can contact one of the many internal and external resources available to you.