Health, Risk and Safety

Effective date: August 1, 2018

Relevant Legislation:

Landlord and Tenant Act

Smoke-Free Ontario

Fire Arms Control Legislation

OCSWSSW Social Work Legislation on Reporting known History of Violence

Criminal Code of Canada R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 34; 1992, c. 1, s. 60(F).


All programs will have procedures related to the prevention and handling/management of violent or threatening situations.  These may include weapons, illegal drugs and prescription medication, terrorism, gas leak, sudden explosion, and assault.


Relevant definitions at the beginning of each sub-section.


1. Weapons, illegal drugs and legal drugs.

Weapons, include but are not limited to firearms, knives, swords, brass knuckles, nun chucks or anything that may be deemed as a weapon by staff (baseball bats, chains) are prohibited on site.

If a person enters a program site and they disclose that they have legal drugs or prescription medications, or they are seen to be on their person, staff will strategize with the clients’ ways to ensure that the items are safe from being misplaced, stolen or misused on site.

If a client discloses they have illegal drugs or they are seen to be on their person at a program site, they will be asked to dispose of them safely or, leave the premises if they are not willing to do so.  Staff will inform clients that illegal drugs are not permitted on program’s sites, and remind that the use of illegal drugs is also not permitted on site.

If a client discloses that, they have a weapon or a weapon is seen to be on their possession, staff will assess the situation based on the following:

  • Type of weapon
  • Mental stability of the client
  • Current environment

As a result of their assessment, staff will ensure their own safety and may call 911 or Program Director/On-Call Staff as soon as it is safe to do so.  When possible and safe to do so, staff will strategize with the client to remove the weapon from the property.

In the event that the weapon is a firearm, staff should always immediately contact 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Follow up with the Program Director/On-Call and when it is safe to do so.


Staff is required to keep all legal or prescription drugs in a safe location when they are working.  Staff will take efforts to ensure that the items are safe from being misplaced, stolen or misused on site.  Strategies to ensure safety of the items can be discussed with the program director.

Staff is not permitted to bring illegal drugs or weapons onto program sites.

2. Terrorism

The following is the Canadian National definition of Terrorism:

An act or omission, in or outside Canada, that is committed in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the public or the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada, and that intentionally

(A) causes death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence,

(B) endangers a person’s life,

(C) causes a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public,

(D) causes substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C), or

(E) causes serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than as a result of advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work that is not intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C),

And includes a conspiracy, attempt or threat to commit any such act or omission, or being an accessory after the fact or counselling in relation to any such act or omission, but, for greater certainty, does not include an act or omission that is committed during an armed conflict and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, is in accordance with customary international law or conventional international law applicable to the conflict, or the activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law.


All LOFT personnel is required to report to their direct supervisor any suspicion of terrorist activity learned at the work place or by contact with clients and co-workers. After assessing the facts the supervisor may decide to contact a member of the LOFT Senior Management Team and a decision may be made to contact National Security tip line (1-800-420-5805) for instructions. If there is a reasonable amount of evidence to believe that terrorist activity is taking place, a member of the Senior Management Team will always contact the National Security tip line for instructions.

All LOFT personnel with reasons to believe that an act of Terrorism is or will take place in LOFT premises will start the evacuation procedure (see below evacuation) of the particular site and contact 911 immediately.

3. Gas Leak


LOFT personnel will make every effort to maintain the safety of clients, staff, students and volunteers. Every LOFT representative shall be aware of what to do in case of suspected gas leak, and every LOFT clients who uses services at LOFT premises should be reminded from time to time the 5 signs of gas leak and what to do and not to do if gas leakage is suspected.

5 signs of gas leak

1. Dead Plants: Even though you cannot directly observe the gas lines underneath the soil, if there is a noticeable patch of dead vegetation, you may have a leaking gas pipe underneath.

2. Hissing Sound: If you hear a hissing sound near your gas lines, you might have a gas leak. In fact, a hissing sound normally means you have a substantial leak. If you hear a hissing sound near your A/C, then it could be a leaking refrigerant line, a leaking valve, or a bad compressor. Turn your system off and call a professional to come check it out. Odd sounds coming from your HVAC system are never a good sign.

3. Rotten Egg Smell: Natural gas and propane has a distinctive smell for a reason. For safety purposes, utility companies use an additive called mercaptan that gives the colorless and odorless gases a smell that is hard to miss. Most people describe this smell as something like rotten eggs, sewage, or sulfur.

4. Small Bubbles: One quick way to tell if you have a gas leak is to perform the bubble test. This also works for anything that contains pressurized gas, such as tires, inner tubes, and propane tanks.

5. White Mist or Fog: If you see an unusual cloud of mist or fog around your property, it could mean a ruptured gas line. Call you gas company right away.

If you find a gas leak:

  • If you detect a gas leak, open up some windows and doors, and leave the area immediately. Do NOT try to turn off the gas as you could cause a spark or damage pipes and appliances.
  • Don’t try to find the source of the leak. Have a professional find and fix the leak for you.
  • Don’t operate any electricity or use any lighters, matches, or appliances. Do not even start your car. Even a small spark could cause a huge explosion.
  • Evacuate all household members and pets from the area and call your local gas company. If they cannot be reached, call your local fire department.
  • If the gas was turned off, never turn the gas back on yourself—let the utility company or a professional do it.

4. Sudden Explosion

Before an Explosion

The following are things you can do to protect your program in the event of an explosion.

  • Each program should have an Emergency Supply Kit based on program-specific needs
  • Each program should have an Evacuation Plan that includes an evacuation checklist (see below evacuation procedure)

During an Explosion

The following are steps to take in the event of an explosion at your program.  If / when it is safe to do so, use your programs evacuation plan.  This involves calling 911, meeting at the designated emergency site and contacting your Program Director/On-Call staff:

  • Get under a sturdy table or desk if things are falling around you. When they stop falling, leave quickly, watching for obviously weakened floors and stairways.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Stay low if there is smoke. Do not stop to retrieve personal possessions or make phone calls.
  • Check for fire and other hazards.
  • Once you are out, do not stand in front of windows, glass doors or other potentially hazardous areas.
  • If you are trapped in debris, use a flashlight, whistle or tap on pipes to signal your location to rescuers.
  • Shout only as a last resort to avoid inhaling dangerous dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with anything you have on hand.

After an Explosion

  • There may be significant numbers of casualties or damage to buildings and infrastructure.
  • Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels.
  • Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits, maybe even overwhelmed.
  • Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences.
  • Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
  • You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety.
  • Clean-up may take many months.

5. Assault

The Criminal Code of Canada defines assault as:

(1) A person commits an assault when:(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.
(2) This section applies to all forms of assault, including sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm and aggravated sexual assault.


LOFT is committed with the safety of clients, staff, students and volunteers. Each program should take all the necessary precautions to prevent an assault from taking place on the program site or while staff is working in the community. In order to accomplish this, there will be a risk assessment of each client at the point of intake. Depending on this assessment, the program will stablish the necessary measures to mitigate the risks levels. The measures include but are not limited to hiring security personnel, purchasing additional security products or technology and scheduling double staff for residential shifts or double staff for community visits. In residential program this could mean increase residential observation (self-harm, suicide risk, etc.), site’ “walkarounds” (alarm in trouble silence, clients with arson history, etc.) and strategizing with other team members. All program staff should be aware of this safety measures and the client they are targeting.

Every LOFT representative that witness assault most report it to their Program Director or the Director On-Call, and to the authorities. An incident report will also be created. (See incident reports policy)

Services may be suspended for clients that commit an assault while participating in LOFT programing, until a different resolution is agreed by the program director upon determination that is safely to do so.

For other possible dangerous situations, please refer to “The Dangerous Situations Policies”

6. Evacuation

Every LOFT program should have a clear evacuation plan, and facilitate ongoing evacuation drills to a minimum of once a year (Depending of the program specifications there could be more.)

Each Residential support site should have an evacuation plan that includes a one or more prearranged alternate emergency sites in the event that there is a prolonged evacuation.  This site should be accessible 24 hours/7 days a week and should be able to accommodate the number of clients and staff that may need to access the space.

Each Residential evacuation plan should include

  • An Evacuation Checklist that contains:
    • All residents’ preferred relocation address (if different of the above as a family’s or friend’s home)
    • All residents’ contact number (cell phone or email to contact them in case they are not present when the evacuation takes place)
    • All residents’ emergency contact information
    • If the site oversees resident medication, resident medication list or client’s pharmacy contact information.
    • An electronic copy of the resident evacuation checklist stored on the LOFT G or P drives in case the hard copy becomes unavailable.

7. Training for Staff

  1. Site evacuation procedure
  2. Medication Training
  3. Health and Safety training
  4. Crisis Prevention and De-escalation
  5. CPR and First Aids training

This policy must be reviewed a minimum of twice a year on the staff meeting.

8. Training for Clients

  1. Site evacuation procedure
  2. Client’s LOFT bill of rights and responsibilities

This policy must be reviewed a minimum of twice a year on the house meeting.