Health and Safety ReportVolume 16, Issue 02

On Topic

Bullying and Harassment at Workprint this article

Carol is at her desk speaking with Marco, who has come to her to ask about a product shipment. As they are talking, Carol’s manager walks by and asks if Carol is enjoying her break. This type of sarcastic comment from her manager happens often and undermines Carol’s confidence and causes her stress. Carol knows that she was working and doesn’t understand why her manager speaks to her in this way. She is at a loss as to what she can do.

Harassment and bullying can happen in any workplace and the effects can be far reaching. Beyond the individual, the harm can spread through an entire workplace and to the bullied person’s friends and family.

What it is and what it isn’t

Conflict at work and bullying are very different. Co-workers don’t always agree or share the same opinions. And while conflict at work is normal, natural, necessary and expected, it is not the same as bullying. Bullying and harassment are forms of workplace violence.

In the workplace, bullying can include verbal aggression or yelling, spreading malicious rumors, the calling of derogatory names, exclusion, humiliation beyond feedback, establishing impossible deadlines, and undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work. Bullying is a form of aggression where the actions can be both obvious and subtle. Bullying can come in many forms and is usually considered a pattern of behaviour which means that it is ongoing and persistent. It is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could mentally hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. It is also described as the assertion of power through aggression. Bullying does not, however, include offering constructive feedback, guidance, or advice about work-related behaviour.

Impact of bullying and harassment

The impact of bullying and harassment on a victim can be emotional, physical and psychological and in turn, the workplace can lose the skills and assets that people bring to their jobs and the workplace. People who are the targets of bullying may experience a range of effects and reactions including shock, anger, feelings of frustration or helplessness, loss of confidence, anxiety, and various physical and psychosomatic symptoms.

The workplace can also suffer the effects of bullying in the form of increased employee absenteeism, increased turnover, decreased productivity and motivation, and poor customer service.

Employer’s role

Preventing workplace bullying requires a commitment from management. This commitment can be communicated in a written policy that identifies and defines bullying as a form of violence in the workplace and includes clear guidelines of what behaviours are considered acceptable. This policy can help to develop and support an organizational culture with standards and values against bullying. The policy should include a reporting system where employees can report instances of bullying and harassment, as well as a clear statement of the steps the employer will take to investigate and resolve any issues.

Employers also have a duty to not engage in bullying and to train workers and supervisors to recognize the potential for bullying and harassment. Everyone should take action and follow the procedures for reporting.

Carol should report the harassment to the person identified in her workplace policy. In general, individuals can report to a designated person, their supervisor, or human resources manager. If she feels that her concerns are being minimized and she isn`t satisfied with the response she receives, she should proceed to the next level of management.

General tips for the workplace

  • Encourage everyone at the workplace to treat one another in a respectful and professional manner.
  • Have a workplace policy in place that includes a reporting system.
  • Treat all complaints seriously. Try to resolve situations before they get serious or out of control.
  • Educate everyone that bullying is a serious matter - what is considered bullying, and whom they can go to for help.
  • Train supervisors and managers in how to deal with complaints and potential situations. Encourage them to address situations promptly and confidentially whether or not a formal complaint has been filed.
  • Have an impartial third party help with the resolution, if necessary.



Tips and Tools

Cutting Edge Safety: Working with Toolsprint this article

Sharp blades can be dangerous and should always be handled with care.  When you put a sharp blade into a power tool and plug it in you’ve truly amped up the risk. Part of keeping power tools such as saws, planers, and slicers in top working order is keeping them sharp. The most common concern when using sharp blades or edges is an injury such as a cut or an amputation.

Reducing the risk of injury

The most reliable way to eliminate the risk of injury of is to eliminate the hazard – the use of the blade. Assess if there is another way to cut the item, open the package, automate the process, or use a different tool.

Next, assess if there is another way to reduce the need for using the blade (e.g., slicing, cutting or trimming). Is there a different type of blade or tool that will do the job safer? For example: covered blades, fixed guards, non-exposed blades, spring backs, tape splitters, pliers, or snips.

If these options are not possible, the following steps may help to reduce the risk of injury.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instruction manual when you operate, clean, and maintain the equipment.
  • Make sure that proper lock out/tag out procedures are in place and followed (e.g., unplug any broken or unsafe equipment, attach a warning tag, take it out of use, and tell your supervisor).
  • Make sure that all guards and safety devices are in place and functioning properly.
  • Make sure cutting blades are sharp.
  • Keep your hands away from the edges of cutting blades – make sure you can see both your hands (and all your fingers) as well as the cutting blades. Keep your eyes on the item you are cutting and know where your fingers are in relation to the blade.
  • Keep your hands away from all moving parts and avoid cleaning or brushing off moving parts such as cutting blades or beaters in mixers.
  • Keep your hands out of feed hoppers and delivery chutes – use a pusher or stick to load the machine. Or, use a knife to finish cutting when the item becomes too thin for the slicer or blade.
  • Turn off and unplug the equipment before trying to dislodge items, and before disassembling and cleaning.
  • Put all guards and safety devices back in place after cleaning.
  • If there are moving parts, cover or tie back your hair, tuck in loose or frayed clothing and remove your gloves and jewellery. All of these items can get caught in the equipment when it is moving or rotating.
  • Keep the floor and work area around the equipment clear of debris or items you might trip over.
  • Do not bypass any guards or safety devices.
  • Don’t operate the equipment if you feel tired or unwell. 


Resources from CCOHS:

Partner News

Assess and Address Psychological Health and Safety with Free Online Toolprint this article

Employers and employees both benefit from a mentally healthy workplace. But for many organizations, the efforts required to address psychological hazards can be daunting. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), in partnership with the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, is helping workplaces in Canada take action on psychological health and safety with the newly redesigned online toolkit, Guarding Minds at Work.

Guarding Minds at Work is designed to assess and address psychological health and safety in the workplace and is suitable for all organizations large or small, in the public or private sector. The tool guides employers through an eight-step process to conduct a thorough audit of their organization’s mental health, using worksheets, surveys, and reports that evaluate psychosocial risk factors in their workplace.

Guarding Minds at Work is free to use, available in English and French, and provides a starting point from which to compare organizations with a 2016 nationally representative sample of industries. It can also be used to help organizations as they implement the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Guarding Minds at Work can be accessed at


Podcasts: Hand Arm Vibration Syndromeprint this article

This month’s featured podcast is an interview with Michelle Tew, Occupational Health Nurse at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers, who discusses hand arm vibration syndrome and how it can be prevented.

Feature Podcast: Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

What is hand arm vibration syndrome and how can it be prevented? Find out in this episode with CCOHS’ special guest, Michelle Tew, Occupational Health Nurse at the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.

The podcast runs 8:22 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


Encore Podcast: Don't Get Burdened by Patient Lifts

Caregivers and healthcare workers who must lift patients as part of their daily job can face challenges with this particular task. While mechanical lifts make it much easier to move and lift patients and can help reduce the ergonomic risks associated with manual patient handling, they also introduce other workplace hazards. Listen to this podcast for tips on how to reduce risk while using patient lifts. 

The podcast runs 7:20 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.


CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!

See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode


Wanted: Worker Monument Photos print this article

Many communities across Canada and around the world have monuments and memorials erected and 
dedicated to workers whose lives have been lost on the job. Do you have a Day of Mourning monument near you?

Help us improve our Day of Mourning Monuments web page by sending us your photos and we will add them to the collection for all to see.

Email your digital photos to and we will post them on our website.

  • Please include the name and location of the monument.
  • JPEG or PNG file formats are preferred.

Last Word.

Mark Your Calendars for Upcoming Health and Safety Eventsprint this article

National Day of Mourning April 28

April 28th is National Day of Mourning in Canada.

This day is set aside to pay tribute to those workers across Canada whose lives have been lost, injured or disabled on the job, or who suffer from occupational diseases. The Day of Mourning is an opportunity for employers and workers to not only remember but also to publicly renew their commitment to preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths and making workplaces safe and healthy for all.

Show your commitment with the new poster that will be available for free download, as well as commemorative pins and stickers available soon.

Steps for Life Walk Kicks Off April 28

Beginning April 28, 2018 in cities across Canada, the Steps for Life 5 KM Walk will start the warm up for North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. The event is not only fun, it also helps spread the message that workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable. Steps for Life is the major fundraising event for Threads of Life, a national charitable organization dedicated to supporting families along their journey of healing who have suffered from a workplace fatality, life-altering illness or occupational disease.

On May 6th, our CCOHS team will once again be walking in the Hamilton event along the shores of Lake Ontario. Dates and times for the walks vary across the country. Find the one closest to you and put your team together. It will be a day to remember.

Learn more about how you can participate on the Steps for Life website.

North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week May 6-12

Organizations all over North America are planning their activities for Safety and Health Week. It is a time in which attention turns to the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community. You can post your event on the website or find an event close by to participate in. CCOHS will be in Victoria, BC, at the national launch to announce the Focus on Safety Youth Video Contest national winners. All of the videos from youth across the country will be available online. Why not have a film fest to view these informative, creative videos? Stay tuned for further details on how CCOHS can help you celebrate NAOSH Week in your workplace.


More information

Learn more about the National Day of Mourning.

Download free Day of Mourning posters and order Day of Mourning pins and stickers.

Visit the Health and Safety (NAOSH) Week website and get inspired.

Learn more about Threads of Life and find a walk close to you

Learn more about the Focus on Safety Youth Video Contest

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We welcome your feedback and story ideas.

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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.

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