DENTAL PRACTICE ARTICLES
How to Perform a Workplace Assessment of the Risk of Violence
By now, dental offices likely have their policy regarding workplace violence posted on the Health and Safety board, reviewing it annually. An important part of your health and safety program is performing a workplace risk assessment that identifies the risk of workplace violence that may arise from the nature of the workplace, type of work or conditions of work.
“Workplace violence” means the use, or attempted use, of physical force against a worker that could cause physical injury. Workplace violence also includes a statement or behaviour that a worker could reasonably interpret as a threat to use physical force against him/her that could cause physical injury.
The intention of the risk assessment is to identify and assess risks related to workplace violence in an effort to develop strategies to mitigate risks as identified. The risk assessment process includes consideration and analysis of:
- Circumstances specific to the workplace,
- Circumstances that would be common to similar workplaces,
- Past incidents of workplace violence in your workplace or similar workplaces, and
- Any other prescribed elements.
When identifying and assessing risks of workplace violence and when recommending steps that can be taken to comply with the employer’s obligation to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers from workplace violence, consider both the likelihood of an incident occurring and the severity of the impact if the incident occurs.
A separate assessment must be performed for each workplace. That is important information for multiple practice owners.
Upon completion of the assessment, advise the JHSC or a health and safety representative of the results of the assessment and provide a copy. If your workplace does not have a JHSC or health and safety representative, advise the workers of the results of the assessment and make copies available on request or advise the workers how to obtain copies.
Below are examples of some areas that need to be assessed and some typical questions to assist you with the assessment.
Risk Assessment of the Physical Workplace
Outside the Building
- Is the parking area secured? Is the parking area well lit?
- Can the receptionist clearly see people entering and exiting the workplace?
- Is the reception area staffed at all times?
- Can outsiders enter the workplace if the receptionist is not present?
- Does your receptionist sometimes work alone?
- Does the reception area have an emergency call button or other emergency procedure?
- Does the waiting area isolate patients from workers and hinder communication with workers?
- Are there any objects in the waiting area that could be used as weapons?
Inside the Workplace
- Does your workplace have a security system? If yes, is it activated and working?
- Is the system regularly tested?
- Are locks and codes changed immediately if there is a lost key or card?
- Describe in general the activities and functions performed by each category of worker including:
- The potential for physical contact with other workers or clients;
- Dealing with the public, contractors, couriers
- The frequency and need for workers to work alone or outside of regular business hours
History of Workplace Violence
- Have any workers reported any incidents of workplace violence or are any such incidents known to have occurred?
- Have any workers reported any threats of workplace violence or are any such threats known to have occurred?
Activity Risk Analysis
- Do workers work with money or other valuables?
- If yes, do they work with money or other valuables in a public area?
- Are there security measures in place to protect these workers? (e.g., security guards, emergency call procedure)
- Do any workers work alone after normal business hours?
Does your workplace have policies to reduce the risk of workplace violence?
Your health and safety program needs to begin with a risk assessment. Whether it is assessing the risk of workplace violence and harassment, or whether it is to assess the risk of injury from hazardous chemicals or illness, it is the responsibility of the employer to identify and prioritize reasonable precautions that can be taken to protect workers and keep your employees safe.
For further information on health and safety programs designed specifically for dental offices, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to send you a sample workplace violence assessment.
Author: Sandie Baillargeon