Our primary objectives are to support the safety of members of the UBC community and to promote the identification and control of hazards associated with UBC work.

In addition to regulatory requirements, occupational and research activities at UBC are guided by internal policies. Deans, department heads, directors and managers all have the responsibility to develop, implement and maintain all elements of the safety program.

HSE provides guidance and technical expertise to support that commitment.

As outlined in UBC Policy #SC1, Occupational and Research Health and Safety Policy, all faculty, staff and students have a role to play in maintaining a healthy, safe and environmentally sustainable university. The resources on this website are designed to support faculty and staff in fulfilling these responsibilities.

Although all members of the UBC community have responsibilities around safety, deans, department heads, directors and managers all have the responsibility to develop, implement and maintain a safety program for their area.

Violence in the Workplace

Did You Know?

Members of the University Community who are faced with an urgent situation involving threatening or violent conduct, where there is reasonable belief that the safety of persons may be threatened, should contact the RCMP immediately.

Campus Security is available at all times and may dispatch the RCMP upon notification. Campus Security can be reached by dialing the University’s emergency number from an internal telephone or a Blue Phone (78111) or from an external phone (250-807-8111). Security may also be reached by accessing a Call Box and following the instructions. A Threat Report must be completed after the event and submitted to the HSE Associate Director within 24 hours of occurrence.

The University will take steps to remove immediately from campus a person who exhibits violent or threatening behaviour. Individuals may be suspended from the University and barred from the campus on a continuing basis for violent or threatening behaviour. The University will pursue appropriate legal and disciplinary measures in such cases. See the Response to At-Risk Behaviour for full policy content.

Potential Workplace Violence

Most people think that workplace violence is a physical assault. Workplace violence can also include actions such as threatening behaviour, written or verbal threats, harassment, verbal abuse and various physical attacks. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety:

    1. Threatening behaviour can include such things as shaking fists, destroying property or throwing objects.
    2. A Written or verbal threat can include any expression of intent to inflict harm. A direct threat is a clear and explicit communication that distinctly indicates that the potential offender intends to do harm.
    3. Harassment can include any behaviour that is designed to coerce or instill fear in the victim.
    4. Verbal abuse can include swearing, insults or condescending language directed at the victim.
    5. A Physical attack can include hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking the victim.

Identifying Threats and Tips on Dealing with Difficult Situations

Predicting when an individual might be “at risk” to commit a violent act is difficult. Most individuals who commit violent workplace acts tend to fit into one or more profiles. These could include:

  • Exhibits emotional instability or violent behaviour
  • Exhibits signs of extreme stress
  • Undergoes profound personality changes
  • Feels victimized by supervisors or the entire organization
  • Makes threats or alludes to acts of workplace violence
  • Exhibits signs of extreme paranoia or depression
  • Displays behaviour inappropriate to the situation at hand
  • Exhibits signs of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Is involved in a troubled, work related romantic situation

Dealing with Hostile Persons

Pay attention to the nonverbal communications that you express toward the violent individual and those that he or she exhibits to you.

Some strategies for dealing with potentially hostile people are:

  • Give the potentially violent person enough physical space (two to four feet is adequate and if possible, have furniture or a large solid object between you and the person).
  • Avoid staring, which may be perceived as a challenge.
  • Stay conscious of how you are delivering your words (keep your volume low, and speak slowly).
  • Listen carefully and don’t be judgmental (use silence as a calming tool and clarify what you are hearing).
  • Observe the individual’s body language.
  • Remain as calm as possible

Use caution if the person exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Red Face
  • Sweating
  • Pacing
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Crossed arms and legs
  • Clenched jaws or fists
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Glaring or avoiding eye contact