Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (Sept. 2015)
Following the sentencing of a patient at a Charlottetown mental-health hospital for assaulting a worker, the union representing the facility’s staff has met with the hospital administration regarding violence against employees.
The 21-year-old female patient was sentenced to two months’ jail time for the August 18, 2015 attack, which occurred while employees were taking the patient out in public, according to Debbie Bovyer, president of the Prince Edward Island Union of Public Sector Employees. “They sent her out with five staff members. So they knew she was dangerous, but they still sent her out and endangered the staff members,” Bovyer charges.
This was the second time this year that she had been sentenced to prison time for assaulting staff while undergoing treatment at Hillsborough Hospital.
In August, 2015, Bovyer and three Hillsborough employees discussed the issue of improving policies regarding violence on the job with the facility’s director of nursing and head of human resources.” “We asked them if we, as a working group – namely the union and the employer – could start developing policies that would protect the staff a little better, and we were outright told, No.”
Bovyer suggests that Hillsborough needs new policies to deal with worker safety without jeopardizing patient care. She adds that this has been an ongoing problem of Hillsborough for about 20 years and that many other healthcare facilities on the island are also dealing with violence.
Hillsborough employs “commissionaires” to deal with violent patients. “They said they are going to get higher-trained commissionaires,” Bovyer says. “Commissionaires are not really security.”
Ontario has had violence and harassment legislation for at least almost 13 years. (April 2010) It has been built upon since and is a very good piece of legislation and the Ontario government and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development have, after working with stakeholders, realized that workplace violence and/or harassment is a very large concern today.
I do hope the province of Prince Edward Island listens to their workforce and stakeholders and present legislation to deal with the issues. Most other provinces have added legislation to their health and safety regulations already. Enforcement is the key!
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at www.hrsgroup.com.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
CEO and Training Director