Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (November 2015)

The B.C. Nurses’ Union (BCNU) Is calling for increased worker protection at a hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia, after a male nurse was attacked while trying to de-escalate an argument between two patients on October 26, 2015.

According to a press release from the BCNU dated October 28, 2015, the incident occurred in the maximum-security unit at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital. One of the patients “sucker-punched” the nurse who was trying to break up the scuffle. The victim received emergency treatment and was sent home to recover. The RCMP was notified of the attacked.

“This is another horrendous example of why BCNU is taking on this issue,” union president Gayle Duteil says in a statement about the incident. There were 13 reported incidents of violence against staff at the Coquitlam Hospital in September alone according to the BCNU.

The forensic psychiatric hospital is one of four high-risk healthcare facilities in British Columbia that were chosen earlier this year to receive a collective $2 million in funding from the provincial government and the BCNU to improve security and reduce occupational violence. Provincial health Minister Terry Lake announced in August that the Coquitlam Hospital would receive financial assistance to improve its distress system, orientation and training and to hire a coordinator for mentorship regarding violence prevention.

The other three facilities selected to receive funding were Victoria’s Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health, Kamloops Hillside Centre and the Abbotsford regional Hospital. All of these facilities specialize in patients with severe mental issues, some of whom also have a history of violence.

On October 21, 2015, BCNU launched a phone hotline for healthcare employees to call in the event of patient violence. “Nurses often need support after they have been assaulted,” Duteil says in a BCNU statement. In addition to the physical injuries they may suffer, there can be significant long-term psychological impacts, including post-traumatic stress disorder, the statement adds.

“Many nurses who are trying to provide safe patient care continue to face the threat of violence every day,” Duteil says. “We look forward to further collaboration with the Ministry of Health making other worksites safer.”

On December 4, 2014, WorkSafeBC fined a forensic psychiatric Hospital $75,000 for multiple previous health and safety violations.

My opinion

Violence and Harassment was deemed to be enough of an occupational safety hazard by 2007 that legislation was quickly created bringing in stakeholders from all areas of the workplace. In 2010, the new legislation was included in the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sections 32.0.1 to 32.0.8.

I am glad that British Columbia has created a better work environment for their workers in regards to workplace violence. Many other provinces can benefit from the information and improve safety on the jobsite.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Violence and Harassment in the Workplace’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal 

CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.