Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
For the 1st time, charges have been laid against a healthcare employer for contravening the violence prevention sections of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. (OHSA)
Bruce Skeaff, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) in Toronto, confirms that three charges were laid against employer Royal Ottawa Health Care Group for failing to develop and maintain measures and procedures for summoning immediate assistance when workplace violence occurred at the Royal Ottawa Place, failing to provide information and instruction to protect a worker from violence and failing to implement safety devices, measures and procedures to protect workers from violence.
The charges stem from an incident in July of 2012, when the patient attacked and injured several registered nursing staff members at a nursing station.
The statement from the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) in Toronto, issued on January 30, 2014, says Bill 168, which sets out the roles and responsibilities for workplace parties with respect to occupational violence and harassment, including the development of policies and programs, is “finally bearing fruit” is the Royal Ottawa Hospital heads to try out this November.
The statement adds that the organization called on the provincial labour ministry last year to compel Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario to take steps to protect nurses from workplace violence.
“We were disappointed a similar outcome did not materialize, but since that event, the employer and ONA have made significant strides working together to develop a proper response to workplace violence,” says ONA president Linda Haslam-Stroud.
Andy Summers, a registered nurse and VP of region three of the ONA, notes that the employer and union at work together to address recommendations and action items – approximately 160 so far – that have been developed.
In particular, the hospital agreed to provide staff with “screamers” – devices that are also known as attack alarms and emit a loud noise – as an interim measure while it installs a new panic alarm system. New signage about workplace violence has been developed and is partially posted.
The new system for workers when they need to be aware of a patient with a history of violence has also been put in place. The system tracks triggers for these people, which Summers says will go a long way in protecting workers,” and allow them to provide the best possible care. He had set the health facility has agreed to hire an expert to assess the risk of violence in the emergency room and the mental health unit.
It was hard to understand why the health care industry in general did not take the new harassment and violence laws under section 32.0.1 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) which was established in July 2010. Obviously, the need was there in the healthcare industry did not see fit to embrace the new standard until too many complaints were issued. Why is it always the same thing? Why do they always wait for an incident that happened before things change in a workplace? Sound familiar?
The hard part is to complete an assessment then create a plan to go along with that assessment and setup procedures and policies to deal with possible violence and harassment issues in the workplace.
It is not rocket science!
It would be interesting to find out how big the fine would be in this place since the healthcare industry is a little different in dealing occupational safety issues than in most other sectors.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.