Alberta Employers Must Track, Remedy Workplace Violence

November 14, 2003 ( - Employers in Alberta, Canada have a new charge on their watch: workplace violence.

The provincial government announced the new Occupational Health and Safety Code yesterday, requiring companies to investigate cases of workplace violence and write a report on the incident. The measure came after 481 employees were assaulted on the job in the Canadian province in 2002, up from 281 in 1996, according to a Canadian Press report.

The report must not only detail the incident, but employers must also explain what corrective action will be taken, and what changes will be made in the workplace to prevent future violence. Even though employers would not be required to submit the report to the government, provincial officials can demand to see such reports during random inspections of a workplace.

“This is simply a matter of updating and getting real with the real world,” Human Resources Minister Clint Dunford told CP. Dunford noted the maximum fine for breaking the code has been increased to C$500,000.

Most likely to feel the impact of the new legislation are health-care providers, since a quarter of all the workplace violence incidents in 2002 involved nurses. Adding to this contention is data from the Canadian Workers’ Compensation Board, which ranked hospitals number one in workplace violence in 2002.

Bev Dick, vice president of a nurse’s union attributes much of the health-care violence to long waiting times in emergency rooms and staffing levels in long-term care homes.“Patients and their families get frustrated if they are not getting their needs met in a timely manner. Often abuse of one form or the other is the result.”