Skip to content

Violence in the workplace

Who is at risk from workplace violence?

How can you prevent violence at your workplace?


Where can you learn more about preventing workplace violence?

Who is at risk from workplace violence

Violence can happen in any workplace. However, people whose jobs involve any of the following factors are at increased risk of workplace violence:

  • Contact with the public
  • Exchange of money
  • Delivery of passengers, goods, or services
  • Having a mobile workplace (such as a vehicle)
  • Working with unstable or volatile people
  • Working alone or in small numbers
  • Working late at night or during early morning hours
  • Guarding valuable property or possessions
  • Working in community-based settings (for example, home care)

How can you prevent violence at your workplace?

Everyone in the workplace must be committed to, and involved in creating, a workplace violence prevention program: employers, workers, the joint health and safety committee, and unions.

Follow these five steps to prevent workplace violence:

1. Establish violence prevention policy and standards

2. Conduct a risk assessment

3. Control violence hazards through workplace design and work practices

4. Educate and train your workers on how to prevent violence

5. Regularly inspect your workplace and review your program to ensure standards are maintained

Use this checklist to help you control the risk of violence in your workplace:

Print Checklist (107k, pdf)

1. Violence prevention policy and standards

My workplace has a written violence prevention policy developed by management and worker representatives and signed by senior management.


My workplace has clearly established standards and expectations for violence prevention.

2. Risk assessment

I have reviewed records and reports, e.g. security reports, employee incident reports, staff perception surveys, health and safety inspection reports, first aid records or other related records.

I have reviewed factors at my workplace that may contribute to risk of violence, e.g contact with public, exchange of money, working alone or at night, etc.

I have asked workers if they have concerns about work practices, public interactions, or any other violence-related issues.

I have researched the history of violence in workplaces similar to mine.

I have reviewed my legal responsibilities.

In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires an employer to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker's health and safety. To learn more about legal responsibilities, contact the Ministry of Labour.

3. Control violence hazards

I have reviewed workplace design to minimize the risk of violence: for example, use of signs, locks, physical barriers, lighting and electronic surveillance.

I have considered improvements such as placing the reception area in view of other workers, improving lighting in the parking lot or using fences to control access to the workplace.

I have reviewed work practices such as keeping cash on hand to a minimum, varying the time of day that the cash register is emptied, checking the credentials of clients, or using a "buddy" system.

4. Education and training

Education and training are provided to workers so they are aware of potential violence risks and procedures for controlling them.

5. Inspect your workplace and review your program

I regularly inspect my workplace and look for signs of violence such as broken items or holes in walls.

I conduct an annual review of the violence prevention program and make revisions where needed.

You can also use the Workplace Violence Assessment Checklist from the Education Safety Association of Ontario to help you assess the risk of violence in your workplace.

Where can you learn more about preventing workplace violence? 

See these resources for more information about preventing violence in the workplace:

Compass: Guiding you to a healthy and safe workplace
WSIB@work seasonal newsletter