Safety concerns at VIHA facilities in Victoria

VANCOUVER, April 29 /CNW/ - Safety concerns at health care facilities operated by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has prompted the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) to call on the Minister of Labour to intervene with WorkSafeBC to ensure proper safety procedures are followed at three of the authority's facilities.

The letter was sent to the minister April 27 by BCGEU president Darryl Walker. The BCGEU represents employees at the three health care operations.

"We are very concerned about the lack of safety procedures at the Seven Oaks Mental Health facility," said Walker. "A violent client was placed in the facility without the proper safety procedures being followed.

"For example, staff were not advised of the potential risk of the client and VIHA's "Violence Alert Identification Policy" is clearly lacking," said Walker.

"I am also deeply concerned that management at Seven Oaks told employees not to raise their health and safety concerns with their union," Walker said. "This is not appropriate. Safety is of primary concern to employees and should be for employers."

Other facilities facing problems include the Eric Martin Pavilion, Adanac House, Tilicum Apartments and the mental health residential facilities Empress and Blackwood.

There have been violent assaults on staff at some of the facilities.

"We have written to the minister to intervene since our calls to WorkSafeBC have had limited success. We understand a WorkSafeBC investigator went to the Seven Oaks facility on April 21 and we are anxious to see the report," said Walker.

"Workers have become increasingly frustrated and angry over the growing number of violent incidents in VIHA operations," said Walker. "Does someone have to die before something is done?"

VIHA has been sanctioned by WorkSafeBC in the past and has been fined on a number of occasions.

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information:

Brian Gardiner, BCGEU Communications (604) 291-9611

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B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

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