Safety planning

November 5, 2019

What is a workplace safety plan and what should it include?

Workplace safety plans are a proactive list of security measures to minimize workplace danger.

They are crucial when addressing domestic violence at work, as they identify a process of action to increase workplace safety when an employee is experiencing domestic violence.

Union representatives should be familiar with safety plans, whether or not domestic violence has come up before at the workplace.

A domestic violence safety plan at work should:

  • Be made with the person experiencing abuse, as they know best the habits of their abuser
  • Be a flexible, changeable document
  • Be easily accessible and visible
  • Find a balance between confidentiality and safety—workers should be warned that although disclosed information will be made confidential, there may be exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to seek outside consultation due to safety concerns

Note: You might want to contact domestic violence experts in the community to help develop a safety plan. You can find a list of women’s shelters across Canada here.

Elements in safety plans could include:

  • Assisting victims in screening calls
  • Having an appropriate number of security staff at the workplace
  • Panic buttons around the workplace
  • Walking the person experiencing abuse to/from their car or public transportation before/after work, and ensuring they have the most secure parking spots
  • Ensuring the victim’s cell phone has 911 on direct dial
  • Using internal code words
  • Specified grounds for when police should be called
  • Ensuring doors are monitored and/or locked
  • Having a trusted emergency contact for the worker experiencing domestic violence if they are absent and the employer cannot reach the worker
  • Ensuring that all employees understand the safety planning process and procedures for domestic violence in the workplace, including a basic understanding of warning signs
  • Having workplace parking lots and entryways well lit
  • Ensuring that monitoring and surveillance equipment is appropriately placed around the workplace
  • Locating work sites appropriately (i.e., distance between employees and clients/visitors)
  • Helping the employee be less visible (possibly removing their name from an office door, taking their name and/or contact information off the website)
  • Attempting to have a written record of victim/abuser correspondence
  • If the abuser and the person targeted by their abuse work together, employers should make adjustments so the perpetrator cannot access the victim at work (different schedules, locations)
  • Employers could also consider looking into a protective order in which abusers would not work on-site
  • Always call 911 if there is a sense of immediate danger. Click here to learn more about what to consider before calling the police.

You can find a template of an individualized safety plan here.