Prevention of violence

The University of Victoria is committed to providing a safe environment for all members of the university community.  Although workplace violence on campus is not common, the potential for violence can exist in certain jobs or work environments, including when employees interact with the public, handle money in retail settings or work outside of regular hours. We are committed to preventing workplace violence and to respond appropriately if threats or acts of violence do occur.

In compliance with WorkSafeBC and UVic Policy SS9120, the Violence Prevention Program provides information, education, procedures and resources for all UVic employees, as well as a risk assessment tool for departments to develop unit-specific procedures where a risk of violence has been identified due to the nature of the work or workplace.  


The university is committed to establishing and maintaining a Violence Prevention Program as outlined in Policy SS9120 - Prevention of Violence in the Workplace, and in compliance with WorkSafeBC.  

Policy SS9120 conveys the university’s commitment to the prevention of violence in the workplace and describes the responsibilities and accountabilities of all members of the university community.

What is workplace violence?

The WSBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) defines violence as “the attempted or actual exercise by a person, other than a worker, of any physical force so as to cause injury to a worker, and includes any threatening statement or behaviour which gives a worker reasonable cause to believe that he or she is at risk of injury”.

Note that acts of violence or threats by a worker towards another worker are covered under Workplace Conduct provisions of the OHSR (4.25).

Risk assessment

A written risk assessment must be conducted, and reviewed annually, where the experience in the workplace—or in workplaces similarly organized or situated—indicates the potential for incidents of violence against employees.  

Where might violence occur?  The following are examples of work that may present a risk of violence:

  • Interacting with members of the public
  • Customer service, security and healthcare jobs
  • Working with cash
  • Late night work or travel
  • Working alone

In such circumstances, a risk assessment must include the consideration of:

  • actual incidents of violence in the workplace (past 3-5 years),
  • occupational experience in similar workplaces, and
  • the location and circumstances in which work will take place

The risk assessment may also include the consideration of:

  • layout and condition of the workplace, including furniture placement, the existence of barriers between workers and the public, lighting, and methods of access and egress;
  • types of equipment, tools, utensils, etc. that are used or available;
  • extent and nature of contact with persons and their behaviour, including the use of alcohol and drugs by them;
  • age, gender, experience, skills and training of the workers concerned;
  • existing work procedures, for example, when interacting with the public or in having to enforce the employer's rules or policies with regard to the public;
  • existing violence prevention initiatives or programs;
  • communication methods by which, for example, information about risks, incidents or threats of violence or requests for assistance may be sent;
  • existence of clearly marked exit signs and emergency procedures; and
  • staff deployment and scheduling, including the extent to which persons work at night, work alone, are checked when working alone and the availability of backup assistance.

Review and complete the risk assessment tool to identify appropriate control measures for your workplace.

Control measures

UVic departments are required to implement control measures to eliminate or minimize the risk of injury for employees where a risk assessment has identified a potential for workplace violence. The measures will typically involve a combination of engineering or administrative controls and will focus on enhancing communication systems and supervision.

Supervisors, in consultation with employees, will need to evaluate their unique work activities and environments to determine which controls should be selected. Some examples are provided below.

Engineering controls

The physical arrangement, design or alteration of workstations, equipment, materials, production facilities or other aspects of the physical work environment:

  • Workstation/area redesign (e.g. line-of-sight and access/egress improvements) 
  • Communication systems (e.g. cell phones, 2-way radios, intercoms)
  • Location systems (e.g. closed-circuit cameras)
  • Alarms or personal emergency call devices

Administrative controls

The provision, use and scheduling of work activities and resources in the workplace, including planning, organizing, staffing and coordinating:

Establish a regular, repeating check-in procedure to ensure the well-being of the worker is known

  • Schedule moderately hazardous work during regular business hours so that other people are more likely to be in the vicinity
  • Implement a “buddy system” for certain activities where workers are more isolated
  • Restrict the amount of time new or inexperienced workers are permitted to work alone
  • Increase the frequency of direct supervision for new or inexperienced workers.

Once control measures are implemented it is essential that supervisors educate and train their employees, ensure that communication and check-in procedures are effective, and review all procedures annually in consultation with employees.


The UVic Health and Safety Orientation course completion, which is required of all employees and supervisors, provides an overview of violence prevention policies and resources, incident reporting procedures, and the rights and responsibilities of employees and supervisors at UVic.  

In addition, supervisors are required to orient and train their employees on any unit-specific violence prevention procedures implemented from a risk assessment.


Reporting emergencies

Threats of violence, assaults or other violent behaviours that require an immediate response should be reported to both the police and Campus Security Services.

  • Police: 911 or 9-911
  • UVic Campus Security Services: 250-721-7599

Callers should provide critical information including their location, the nature of the incident, whether perpetrator(s) are still present, etc.

Reporting non-emergencies

Threatening statements or behaviour that gives one reasonable grounds to believe that there is a potential for workplace violence must also be reported.  Such reports may assist in identifying patterns of potential violence and may assist in the prevention of emergency situations in the future. 

All such circumstances must be reported to your supervisor and Campus Security Services (250-721-7599).


All reports of incidents or potential incidents will be taken seriously and will be dealt with appropriately.  The nature of the investigation will depend largely on the circumstances and may involve Campus Security Services, Human Resources, OHSE, EQHR, the department involved, union representatives and/or external law enforcement agencies.  The investigation may result in the matter being dealt with under the provisions of relevant collective agreement(s), University policies, and/or legislation such as the Criminal Code.

In instances where a WorkSafeBC claim has been filed, a preliminary joint investigation must be completed within 48 hours and a full joint investigation within 30 days.


Campus Security Services offers several programs to aid in protecting the safety of University community members, including:

  • Safehaven
  • SafeWalk
  • Campus Alone

For more information on how to protect yourself and your employees please visit the Campus Security website or call 250-721-8981 to speak with one of their personal safety coordinators.

Employee Family Assistant Program and Counselling Services

Victims of threatening behaviour or acts of violence who wish to receive counselling support may do so through either EFAP (faculty/staff) or through Counselling Services for students.

Occupational Health, Safety & Environment

OHSE is available to provide advice about WorkSafeBC requirements for violence prevention, and will refer managers/supervisors to Campus Security for assistance when appropriate.