Ontario Bill 168, the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace) 2009 finally passed third reading on December 9, 2009 and is awaiting royal assent to become law. The bill will come into force six months after it receives royal assent (which is expected sometime mid-2010), and will make a number of significant changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). New provisions will require employers to take precautions to prevent and protect workers from violence, harassment and domestic violence that could take place in the workplace. This means all employers will have to address the issue of violence and harassment prevention on both a human rights and a health and safety perspective.
Many people argue that workplace gossip is harmless and in fact brings co-workers together as friends, increasing trust and honesty. However, if you watch soaps, you know where this can lead. In the right (or wrong) hands, even a superficially innocuous complaint or tidbit of information can grow way out of proportion, leading often to disastrous (and on television, often humorous) results. On TV, there always seems to be someone waiting for that bit of incriminating evidence with the intention to wreak havoc on someone else's life! One hopes this is not quite the case in real-life workplaces.