Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario


  • Violence in the workplace is believed to be on the rise, despite evidence of significant underreporting.
  • Sustained exposure to violence in the workplace, including aggression, abuse, and bullying can have serious physical and psychological consequences, causing some nurses to consider leaving the profession
  • This best practice guideline on preventing violence in the workplace provides clear and courageous recommendations for realistic actions that can be undertaken in health and community-sector workplaces by governments, institutional boards and administrations, as well as all front-line health-care providers, to prevent and manage wide-ranging forms of violence
  • The RNAO position paper on violence against nurses and nursing students in the worplace defines workplace violence as ”an incident of aggression that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or psychological that occurs when nurses are abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances related to their work”.
  • Three forms of violence have been defined by the Joint Program on Workplace Violence in the Health Sector: physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence
  • Perpetrators of violence in the workplace have been classified into four types:
    • Type I (Criminal Intent): The perpetrator has no relationship to the workplace.
    • Type II (Client or Customer): The perpetrator is a client at the workplace who becomes violent or aggressive toward a staff member or another client.
    • Type III (Worker-to-Worker): The perpetrator is a staff member or past staff member of the workplace, including managers, workers, physicians, contracted staff or service workers and volunteers.
    • Type IV (Personal Relationship): The perpetrator is a person with a relationship to a staff member who becomes violent or aggressive toward that staff member in the workplace.
  • From a risk management perspective, this guideline provides structural processes to identify and manage risks to patients/clients, families, nurses, health-care professionals and other staff, with optimal physical and psychological outcomes for targets of violent episodes.
  • This guideline provides solid recommendations that translate core nursing values into action
Healthy Work Environment
Preventing and Managing Violence in the Workplace
Background Information