Mental stress, workplace violence and workplace harassment are the biggest health and safety issues affecting Ontario’s 76,000 elementary teachers and educational professionals, according to a survey conducted for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of 72 presidents of ETFO locals identified mental stress in the workplace as a great or major concern affecting members, followed by workplace violence (64 per cent) and workplace harassment (51 per cent). These percentages are even higher in remote and rural areas.
In comparison, heat stress, indoor air quality and asbestos were great or major concerns for one in four local presidents.
Many school boards in the province are also falling short in their duties to deal with workplace violence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Education Act, found the survey.
Almost one-half of respondents said their school boards lack effective workplace violence programs or adequate training for principals and staff dealing with workplace violence. And many boards have provided inadequate information on people with a history of violence.
The survey comes as the Mental Health Commission of Canada prepares to release a voluntary standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace.
“We will be encouraging our locals to discuss the new standard with their boards as part of strategies to reduce stress in the workplace,” said ETFO president Sam Hammond. “What could be more stressful for a teacher than dealing with violence while trying to educate students?”
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province.
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