Put An End To The Unsafe Workplace

Pic with Trevor Linden

Running a small business is never easy! As a small business owner, I am aware of the challenges of managing service delivery, marketing, sales and finances. A company owner wears many hats. My company helps businesses manage a very important legal obligation- workplace safety. The laws governing Occupational Health and Safety are complex and can be overwhelming. My team of experts helps companies understand workplace legislation and find practical solutions for their safety program.

Recently employers have been given a new challenge from WorkSafe BC: Address the issue of mental health in the workplace.  Since the implementation of the new workplace legislation that came into effect on November 1st, 2022, employers across this province are required by law to eliminate bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Workplace Bullying and Harassment is defined as “any inappropriate conduct or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated, but excludes any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment. This includes behaviour from the public or a client to a worker. 

As the company owner, I have a legal obligation to do everything reasonable to protect my workers from conduct or comments that can be considered intimidating or humiliating.  Recently, my employee was on a sales call in a local store.  The intent of the sales call was to educate the store manager about the new legislation on Workplace Bullying and Harassment and to offer our professional services to develop a training program for his workplace.  The manager grabbed my employee by the shoulders and spoke to her in an intimidating way.  There is no question that his conduct and words were intended to intimidate.

The irony of the situation slapped me in the face.  Here we are trying to educate business owners about Workplace Harassment and Bullying and my employee is the one who is attacked.  As a result, I took the step to develop even more procedures for my sales team who work alone and engage extensively with the public.

Harassment and bullying has long been the topic of conversation in schools, but as a society we have been silent on this issue in the workplace.  Harassment and Bullying are critical risk factors for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.  At the recent MAKE IT SAFE!  Conference in Vancouver, BC held by the food and manufacturing industry occupational safety association, hundreds of delegates gathered to tackle this issue.  Trevor Linden, founder of Club 16, spoke about the need for companies to demonstrate leadership.

Trevor Linden told us: “Leaders create a culture.”   Great companies are taking leadership to eliminate toxic work environments.  Successful business leaders understand that a healthy and happy workplace is a profitable workplace.  I have been fortunate to work with great industry leaders such as the Jim Pattison Group.  These companies are creating a culture of respect in the workplace.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 2.45.24 PM

In my recent conversations with the WorkSafeBC prevention officers in charge of Workplace Harassment and Bullying, many employers are still unaware of the new legislation. WSBC is already receiving numerous reports of Bullying and Harassment cases.  Often in these cases the reporting procedures were unclear for the workforce and the employer did not complete an effective investigation into the complaint. Workplace Bullying and Harassment is very similar to other safety related issues.  An employer has the opportunity to eliminate problems before they happen.

Now is the time for business owners to take action! If an employer can think through the possible situations that can lead to Workplace Harassment and Bullying, there is a greater chance that the employer can eliminate any conflict before it begins. If an employer can take the time to draft clear procedures in the event of a complaint, the easier time the employer will have addressing the complaint. A critical component is to fully understand and think through the investigation process. What would the employer need to document? How can the investigation get to the root cause of the problem?

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 2.45.39 PM

I work with numerous companies to help them put together programs for Workplace Harassment and Bullying. My clients have the attitude that they want to take initiative to foster a respectful workplace. Happy workers are effective workers. A toxic work environment will poison relationships with customers and clients and choke productivity. The leaders in the business community are embracing this legislation to create workplaces where people are happy to go to work.


Posted on: January 31st, 2023 by Victoria Comments

Prevent Bullying and Harassment at Your Workplace

November is a memorial month, to remember those who contributed their lives in the line of duty to fight for peace and freedom. This November also has special meanings for the workforce in the province, as WorkSafeBC approved OHS policies focused on preventing workplace bullying and harassment. The concept of “workplace hazard” keeps evolving, from  the obvious safety hazards, to more subtle chemical/physical exposure. And now it is time to say “NO” to workplace bullying and harassment.

What Constitutes Workplace Bullying and Harassment?

Before discussing the definition of workplace bullying and harassment, I would like to share this workplace video clip with you. Does this account for a workplace bullying and harassment?

According to WorkSafeBC definition, Workplace Bullying and Harassment

  • Include any inappropriate behaviour or comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or should have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or intimidated.
  • DO NOT include any reasonable action taken by an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of workers or the place of employment.

So… if we look at the firing lady, the dismissal decision itself is not workplace bullying and harassment activity. But doing this with mouth full of Chinese food? Probably yes.

Other examples of bullying and harassment include:

  • Vandalizing personal tools/belongings
  • Spreading malicious rumours
  • Targeted isolations


What Shall the Workers Do If He/She Is Bullied at Workplace?

As a worker, you should not engage in bullying and harassment activities. However, if you become the target, you should file a complaint of the incident, any witness, and the detailed description of word/activity. If you are diagnosed with any metal disorder as a result of workplace bullying/harassment, it is covered by WorkSafeBC compensation.

What Shall the Employer Do to Prevent Workplace Bullying and Harassment?

  • Living in a non-ideal world, we all know that managers and supervisors undergo stress and pressure of increasing productivity, reducing cost and keeping the whole system work on a daily basis. That is why they impose management actions on the employee, such as changes in workloads, deadlines, transfers, and disciplinary actions. However, managers and supervisors should ensure performance problems are identified and addressed in a constructive, objective way that does not humiliate or intimidate.
  • Employer should develop a written policy statement declaring that workplace bullying and harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Employers must also make sure workers are made aware of the policy statement.
  • Initiate investigation into filed complaints regarding workplace bullying and harassment.

What Are the Challenges Foreseen?

  • Unlike safety issues or chemical exposure which are quantifiable, it is fairly difficult to draw a cut-off line to define bullying and harassment.
  • We are proud of the cultural diversity of BC, which are reflected in the workplace. Sometimes, cross-cultural misunderstanding can lead to conflict, which can escalate to bullying and harassment.
  • Workplace bullying and harassment might come from multiple sources, such as customers, client, sub-contractors. It requires teamwork between the management, HR, and OHS professional to develop the prevention program.
  • Cyber-bullying (a potential path of bullying and harassment if you mistakenly add your supervisor & coworkers as Facebook/Twitter friends…)


Posted on: November 15th, 2022 by Phil Comments

Why don`t we care? Reasons why people don`t protect themselves on the job

DeskToday I celebrated a moment of great self-care for my workplace – I spent my first workday at my new stand- up desk!  Recent studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time is harmful.  The inactivity and the unnatural body posture caused by sitting for long periods of time negatively impact all body types.  Even normally healthy people will suffer ill health from sitting extensively.

So I built a desk where I work standing up!  I added to my new creation a “wellness mat” that I stand on to ease any tension in my legs.  I feel cared for and energized.

What I discovered in this process is how long I was willing to suffer with back pain and knee pain before I took action.  I care a lot for my body and invest in gym memberships, yoga passes, healthy food and meditation classes.  I enjoy being healthy, fit and well…..yet I was willing to sacrifice my well being for my work.  My work ethic overruled my health ethic.

Recently, my loved one, Jacob, came home with cracked, red and irritated hands.  He is a metal fabricator and had spent his day working with grease and then a harsh industrial paint.  His hands were covered in paint and grime.  The irritation on his hands was extremely painful.  I asked him if his employer provided him with gloves to protect himself from the irritating chemicals.  Yes, his workplace had protective gloves.  He knew where to find them, but they were across the shop from his workstation.  He was engrossed in his task.  Here is how he describes his thoughts:

I get so focused on my task that I don’t want to stop.  I just want to keep focused.  Stopping to find protective gloves would have interrupted my thought process and work flow.  I just wanted to get the work done

Interestingly enough, after greasing the deadline anchor that he was working on, Jacob needed to clean up the mess on his hands.  He used some degreaser that was in the shop.  The degreaser began to irritate his hands and caused what looked like skin ulcers.  Alarmed he needed to hunt down his supervisor and first aid attendant to find the MSDS on the product.  Yes, the degreaser can cause dermititis and skin ulcers in people who have sensitivities.  The combination of the degreaser, the soap and the handcleaner that he used to try to remove the grease may have also caused a chemical reaction.

Then Jacob went on to paint the deadline anchor.  The thick industrial paint got on his arms and hands.  It coated his hands in a thick crust.  An hour of scotch brite scouring pads at home finally got off the paint.

Mission before Man!

Maybe it is not for lack of caring  that workers do not care for themselves.  Quite often it is the case that they care too much.

Across the land, in every workplace, we have hard working Canadians who are working themselves to injury or literally to death.

Just get the job done!

If only we could care enough to stop this cycle.  Jacob made another interesting comment to me:

Sometimes I see other workers doing things that I know aren’t safe.  For example, I see young guys positioning themselves in the path of danger.  If a clamp holding a heavy piece failed, they could be crushed.

Experience can help us teach others.  Send a message to fellow workers to take measures to care for themselves and to work safely.  We can work as a team and all go home healthy and safe at the end of the day.

That is a sign of caring.


Posted on: February 19th, 2022 by Victoria Comments

They laughed when I told them to tie off . . . The role of peer pressure in safety

Create Inclusion

We thought that we had grown out of peer pressure when we left high school, but it continues in the workplace.  Safety rules are constantly being broken because people are afraid of peer pressure.  When faced with the choice of shame, exclusion or jibes from a peer group or the choice of physical injury or harm, it is amazing the number of people who would risk physical pain over social conflict.

A safety culture needs to break the energy of negative peer pressure.  This can only be achieved by a combined effort of positive leadership.

In my long experience in education, my most interesting work was in creating a positive learning cultures.  My work was to create tightly-knit peer groups called Tribes.  I worked with these groups to develop skills to collaborate and work together.  In an industrial environment, these working groups can be empowered to problem solve areas in a company.  These teams can be built from people who work together on a regular basis or mixed groups from people in various departments.  The goal is to create groups that contain a natural leader who will support a positive work culture.

The peer leaders influence others.  When leadership comes from a peer group, the energy spreads.  If the leader follows the safety guidelines, the peers will follow.

Within the group, there will also be negative leaders- those who try to distract or sabotage positive initiatives.  Negative leaders have the power to undermine a group if their are given the opportunity.  The goal is to create a momentum behind the positive change and lessen the influence of negative leaders.

Management plays a critical component in this area.   Managers and supervisors need to work to include negative leaders in the positive changes.  There is a danger of focusing on positive reinforcement for positive leaders and disciplinary action for negative leaders.  This only leads to more feelings of exclusion and deeper resentments with these members of the group.  Others who share feelings of exclusion will gravitate to this energy and it will grow.  Instead, kill it with kindness.

Kindness is a powerful tool and takes many forms.  Kindness can be an acknowledgement of a person- a friendly hello in the morning, or “how was your weekend, Bill?”.  It can be looking for opportunities to praise positive performance.  Find the good.

This does not mean that company discipline policies are not followed.  Focusing kindness on negative leaders exposes their complaints and grumpiness as superficial.  Underneath is a person who wants to be respected and to be acknowledged.

Creating a positive safety culture is challenging but it is possible.  Use the power of the group to direct the energy.  One person can not create it on their own.  If enough people are following the same desired path or positive outcome, the momentum carries the group forward.  The culture shifts or changes and new habits are formed.

Posted on: January 15th, 2022 by Victoria Comments

The Enemy

I am more powerful than the combined armies of the world. I have destroyed more people than all the wars of all nations.  I massacre thousands of people every year.  I am more deadly than bullets.  I steal over $500 million each year.  I spare no one and I find victims among the rich and poor alike, the young and old, the strong and weak.   Widows know me to their everlasting sorrow.  I loom up in such proportions that I cast my shadow over every field of labour.

I lurk in unseen places and do most of my work silently.  You are warned against me, yet you heed me not.  I am relentless, merciless and cruel.  I am everywhere-in the home, on the streets, in the factory, at railroad crossings, on land, in the air and on the sea.

I bring sickness, degradation and death, yet few seek me out to destroy me.  I crush, I maim,  I will give you nothing and I may rob you of everything that you have.

I am your worst enemy.

I am carelessness

Posted on: November 20th, 2021 by Victoria Comments

© 2024 Safety Solutions At Work. All Rights Reserved

Resource Partners     Website developed by: