Domestic Violence’s Impact on the Workplace

November is Domestic or Family Violence Awareness Month in Canada. Why should safety professionals be concerned about domestic violence? Because such violence can impact and even spill over into the workplace.

For example, a study by researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University found that “intimate partner” violence resulted in 142 homicides among women at work in the US from 2003 to 2008—or 22% of the 648 workplace homicides among women during the period.

Canadian governments have started to see this connection, too.

For example, Manitoba just released a toolkit for employers, “Family Violence and the Workplace: It’s everyone’s business,” which provides information and resources on domestic violence, including recognizing possible signs of abuse and understanding how to help workers who may be affected by violence.

WorkSafeBC released a similar toolkit last year and recently translated select materials from the Domestic Violence in the Workplace Tool Kit into several languages, including traditional and simplified Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Punjabi, Hindi and Tagalog.

Ontario went a step further and added a domestic violence provision to its workplace violence and harassment requirements. This provision was a direct response to the 2005 murder of Lori Dupont, a nurse, by her ex-boyfriend, a doctor at the Ontario hospital where she worked.

Senior hospital administrators knew about the ex-boyfriend’s unstable behaviour and that he’d made threats to Dupont. But on the day she was murdered, they’d scheduled them to work together.

To help you address domestic violence in your workplace, OHS Insider has the following resources:

And at Safety Smart, you can download a safety talk on family violence. Not a subscriber to SafetySmart? Sign up for a free trial.