[April 2021 update: It is now a little more than one year later. Many organizations have taken steps to get third party partners in place, but the reality is that most have not. Let's be honest, 2020 was a bit of a hectic year - COVID-19 came and pushed a lot of organizations plans to the back burner while they went into survival mode. Now in 2021, as we look to return to some semblance of normalcy, it's time to revisit those old compliance regulations and make sure everything is up to date, especially as we move back into offices. Please check out the article below and let our team know if we can help you achieve compliance with your third party harassment reporting line.]
What Is The New Regulation?
All over Newfoundland and Labrador, organizations are scrambling to comply with the new Occupational Health and Safety act update. There are some sizable changes that organizations have to undergo and not a lot of time to prepare.
As of January 1st, 2020 the updated regulations will be enforced.
With a little under a month to prepare, most of us start by asking, “What does the new regulation even cover?” We’re going to take a look at what exactly has been updated, and more importantly, what it means for your organization.
The changes to the regulations now capture incidents regarding worker-on-worker violence and include provisions related to harassment in the workplace, which had not been previously included.
In three sections the legislation covers violence prevention, a harassment prevention plan, and a risk assessment.
Forcing ourselves (the business community) to reflect upon hazards at our own place of work is a healthy exercise. When implemented, the changes will make our organizations healthier and happier places to spend our time.
“I am pleased today to announce the enforcement of regulations that support harassment and violence free workplaces. I am proud that our government is taking another step in achieving this goal, and call on all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to join me as we create a more respectful culture in the workplace.”
Honourable Sherry Gambin-Walsh
Minister of Service NL
Let’s start with the risk assessment. A risk assessment allows us to understand how risky our day-to-day routines are. As you go through the assessment you’ll realize that not everybody within an organization carries the same amount of risk. You’ll need to group the unique risks that employees incur and assess each group separately to get a true picture of the breadth of risk.
Harassment Prevention Plan
The Harassment Prevention Plan is more than a preventative measure. It also states a required procedure for reporting a harassment incident involving a supervisor or manager. Under the new legislation, it is required to report harassment incidents to an external third party. One of the benefits to using an external third party is that many are well-versed with strict compliance regulations, and employees often feel more comfortable reporting sensitive information to a neutral third party who can respond with trained professionals.
This section of the act mandates that employers address any identified risks of injury to workers from violence by establishing procedures, policies and work environment arrangements to eliminate or minimize those risks. It’s worth noting that employees who are at higher risk of violence are particularly vulnerable when they work alone. Many companies are taking advantage of modern smartphone apps or panic buttons to mitigate the risk score of high risk workers.
It’s important to note that for all of the aforementioned legislative changes, employers should keep records of all activities that establish compliance with the regulations. Without such records, there is no proof of compliance, and so the employer could still be held liable for failing to comply with the regulations.
When engaging an external third party such as Telelink for harassment line reporting, the ability to provide thorough documentation should be an important feature of their service.
How Does It Affect Me And My Employees?
Now that you know what the amendment covers, it’s time to ask the question, “How does this affect me and my employees?”. Everybody within your organization should familiarize themselves with the interpretation of violence and harassment. Establishing a common understanding among your team of what defines harassment and violence will help affect change in a positive manner. There is a short section on training that we recommend checking out as well.
Your third party reporting partner will be a huge help when it comes to record-keeping and ensuring compliance. Choose a reporting partner with experience in complying with OHS regulations.
About Telelink – 24/7 Response Centre
Telelink is Canada’s only ISO 9001:2015 response centre. If you want to learn more about how Telelink’s third party harassment reporting line can help your organization comply with the new OHS act update, please contact us using the information below. Telelink has been the trusted voice on the other end of the phone for over 50 years. For more detailed information on our harassment reporting line services, please check out our feature sheet.