OHS Canada Magazine

Workplace violence claims have jumped 25 per cent over last five years: WorkSafeBC

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March 31, 2023
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety workplace violence WorkSafeBC

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Over the last five years in British Columbia, the number of successful workers’ compensation claims related to violence have increased by 25 per cent, according to WorkSafeBC data.

The agency said it approved 2,292 workers’ compensation claims related to violence in 2018. Last year, that figure shot up to 2,868 successful claims.

“Unfortunately, the potential for violence exists whenever there is direct interaction between workers and non-workers,” said Barry Nakahara, senior manager of prevention field services at WorkSafeBC. “Employers must provide a workplace as safe from the threat of violence as possible.”

Risk assessments and policies

WorkSafeBC regulations require that employers conduct a risk assessment, have policies and procedures in place to protect workers from the risk of violence, and to provide instruction to workers.

Where there is a risk of violence at work, employers must implement controls to eliminate or minimize these risks. These controls can include developing and implementing violence-prevention policies, providing training and education to employees, and regularly conducting risk assessments. Physical barriers, lighting, and public visibility, along with safe-work procedures, could also serve as effective controls.


Employers must review and update their violence prevention program annually to ensure its effectiveness as the work environment changes.

Working alone

Lone workers may be at increased risk of confrontations or even violence, particularly if they are on shift during late-night hours.

Employers must identify potential hazards and implement measures to eliminate or minimize the risk of harm for workers who work alone or in isolation. This may include providing workers with communication means, such as a radio or phone, or a check-in system.

WorkSafeBC emphasizes the need for regular interval check-ins to ensure workers’ well-being. With set time intervals, emergency rescue provisions, and designated persons responsible for keeping track of check-ins.

“Violence can have a significant physical and psychological impact on workers,” said Nakahara. “Employers must identify and address the risk of violence in their workplace and it’s important to involve workers in this process.”

Nakahara adds that for employers with more than 20 employees, the violence prevention program should be developed and implemented in cooperation with the joint health and safety committee.


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