Workers Health & Safety Centre

ILO report examines workplace violence prevention through a gender lens

Support an IOL convention. Stop gender-based violence at work!
A new report offers insight into research and regulatory approaches to addressing work-related violence and highlights the need for more gender-sensitive solutions.  
The report was commissioned by the International Labour Organization and written by Canadian legal scholar, Katherine Lippel, the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law, Faculty of Law, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa.
The report, Addressing Occupational Violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens, reviews international literature and selected policy and regulatory strategies on occupational violence. The report states, “A better understanding of the causes is essential for prevention. It is also of importance to have a clear picture of gendered exposures to violence, including both exposures that are different for men and women, and exposures that disproportionately affect men or women because of the gendered nature of the labour market.”
The report suggests:
  • The need for an overarching ILO convention to address workplace violence rather than a piecemeal approach
  • Laws, when enforced, help make the ‘business case’ for developing and introducing violence prevention efforts in the workplace
  • Avoiding stereotypes which suggest violence in some sectors is a normal part of the job and,
  • Gender neutral policies may not fully identify hazards nor adequately protect workers.
The report will inform work currently underway by the ILO to develop a standard on Violence against Women and Men in the World of Work.

Actions to end gender-based violence

Campaigns calling for a new international labour Convention to address gender-based violence cite some disturbing statistics:
  • 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence
  • 40 to 50 per cent of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.
Around the world, November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, ending December 10 with International Human Rights Day.
Every December 6 Canadians recognize a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. The need for action in Canada is equally urgent. A 2014 national study on domestic violence by the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University found victims reported significant impacts on job performance and work hours while some reported losing their job.
Advocates in Ontario are currently pressing for passage of Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016. It would allow workers paid leave if they or their children are victims of domestic or sexual violence, entitle workers to workplace accommodation, and obligate employers to provide managers, supervisors and workers with information and instruction about domestic and sexual violence in the workplace.
On September 8, 2016 Bill 132 amendments to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act took effect which expand employers’ obligations to address workplace harassment, including workplace sexual harassment. To assist workplaces, WHSC offers:
  • an updated three-hour Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention Training program
  • revised compliance checklists for employers and workers
  • Workplace Harassment: from investigation to prevention, a new fact sheet to complement updated fact sheets on workplace violence and domestic violence in the workplace.
Check out WHSC Workplace Violence Resources
Other related resources:  
To learn more:
Call:     1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a WHSC training services representative.