Workplace Violence in Education

Creating Safe Workplaces and Learning Environments

PSHSA is working closely with Ontario’s Education sector to address workplace violence within the school community.


Workplace violence is a real issue in our schools. While teachers and education assistants are the most impacted group according to reported incidents, all school staff, including office staff, principals and vice principals, maintenance staff, and bus drivers, are at risk of experiencing or witnessing acts of violence and aggression. Violence in the workplace is a complex issue and has become a top priority for Ontario workplaces.


As part of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development’s mandate to reduce and eliminate violence in the workplace, PSHSA has engaged with various key stakeholders within the school community to understand their needs with respect to workplace violence prevention. As part of this process, PSHSA has determined current gaps and identified leading practices to address these needs.

Classroom students raising hands

Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Toolkit for School Boards


Based on these consultation efforts, PSHSA has developed a Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Toolkit for the Education Sector (School Boards). This resource was created to protect education workers from workplace violence, prevent injuries and consequences resulting from acts of violence, and meet legal responsibilities for ensuring healthy and safe workplaces. It includes input and leading practices collected from various stakeholders involved at the school board and advisory levels. These materials can be used as is or as a reference when implementing the tools at your school board.


Download the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Toolkit below as well as each of the accompanying tools.

Violence Risk Assessment Toolkit for the Education Sector (School Boards) cover

Download the complete toolkit in English or French:


Individual Tools:

Behaviours Observed Checklist

Violence Risk Assessment Tool

Safety Alert Summary

Overview Diagram – Assessment of Workplace Violence Risks in Education

Frequently Asked Questions - English/French


These tools are also available as fillable word documents.


PSHSA acknowledges the time, expertise, commitment and passion of the many school board representatives, principals, organizations, frontline staff and labour unions that participated in the guidance and development of this material, and expresses its sincere appreciation for their role in fostering a greater understanding and context for the identification and development of effective prevention strategies.

Workplace Violence in Education Risk Assessment Workshops


PSHSA is in the process of organizing regionally based community of practice workshops for school board staff. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to apply their local situations and circumstances while learning how to use the PSHSA Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Tool in their local school board setting. The Risk Assessment workshops will facilitate sharing of solutions to common challenges amongst participants and participating organizations.

Please stay tuned for more information about how to get involved in a Risk Assessment workshop.


Assistance Meeting Legislative Requirements


PSHSA Consultants are also available in your area to assist in responding to Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development orders for Workplace Violence Risk Assessments and Reassessments, and/or to complete site-based Workplace Violence Risk Assessments and Reassessments.


Training for administrators and JHSC representatives on the effective completion of a Risk Assessment can be delivered directly to your school board.


Please contact your local PSHSA Education Sector Consultant for further information.

Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development & Ministry of Education Joint Initiatives


The Ontario Ministry of Education has established the Provincial Working Group on Health and Safety with a mandate to “strive to facilitate health and safety excellence”.

The Working Group has served as a forum for collaboration and focus among partners, all with the common goal of ensuring our schools are safe places to learn and to work.


The Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Ministry of Education have worked closely with the working group to develop an education-specific guide for Ontario’s publicly funded schools – Workplace violence in school boards: A guide to the law. This guide is a resource for school boards and other education stakeholders to better understand the law and how it applies to workplace violence in schools.


PSHSA was a member of the Secretariat supporting this important work and was able to assist the development of the guide.


PSHSA’s Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Toolkit for the Education Sector (School Boards) is an excellent resource to supplement and support the MOL’s guide to the law.

workplace violence 2018 ltis education

Of the 2018 workplace violence lost time injuries in the public sector, 31% are from Education sector occupations.

18% Elementary and Secondary school teacher assistants. 8% Elementary school and Kindergarten teachers. 2% Early Childhood educators and assistants. 2% Secondary school teachers. 1% School principals and administrators of Elementary and Secondary schools.

Applying a Culture Lens


The majority of feedback received regarding current gaps and needs with respect to workplace violence in education, as well as the interventions and strategies identified as being effective for reducing or preventing violence, are aligned with elements of organizational climate and culture.


PSHSA has conducted organizational health and safety climate assessments in various public sector organizations, and has found that using a systematic approach to assessing climate is a valuable tool for influencing positive change. Below are the elements of health and safety climate based on validated research and have been used by PSHSA.


  • Management Commitment 
  • Personal Priorities and Need for Safety  
  • Management Style 
  • Communication
  • Personal Appreciation of Risk
  • Managing Change
  • Priority of Safety 
  • Physical Work Environment 
  • Shared Values
  • Safety Rules and Procedures 
  • Training and Competence 
  • Systems Compliance 
  • Supportive Environment 
  • Cooperation
  • Accidents and Incidents 
  • Involvement 
  • Safe Behaviours

Input Aligned with Health and Safety Climate Elements


Feedback received through consultative efforts and initial project discovery aligns with many of the health and safety climate elements above. This feedback has been incorporated in the toolkit. Examples of input are provided below.


  • Communication – Standardized information about the student needs to be communicated with/provided to staff about the risks, and triggers. 
  • Priority of Safety – For those working at the school level, adapting the belief and practice that “safety trumps everything” was cited as an overarching need. 
  • Safety Rules and Procedures – Consistent messaging needs to be used when reporting and following protocols to effectively deal with students, parents and community.  
  • Involvement – Employees and parents need to work together and share information, strategies and best practices.  
  • Cooperation – A change of attitude between all parties and greater understanding of the needs to ensure all levels work together internally and externally.  
  • Competence and Training – Awareness and de-escalation training should be provided to all those involved with students.   
  • Accidents and Incidents – There is a need to develop better, more accessible and inclusive tools for prevention, responding, and reporting.


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Do you have questions about responding to Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development orders? Do you need support completing workplace violence risk assessments? Are you looking for more information on this issue?
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