VANCOUVER, Feb. 3 /CNW/ - WorkSafeBC has issued nine separate orders at
two Victoria-area mental health facilities criticizing the failure of
Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to protect the safety of
"This is a staggering number of WorkSafeBC orders issued against one
employer," said HSA President Reid Johnson.
Johnson, who has worked on psychiatric wards as a social worker, said
unstable psychiatric patients are often unable to restrain their
violent behavior. Hospital management, he said, has to take
responsibility for patient as well as staff safety.
The incidents leading up to the orders issued recently are disturbing.
In August 2009, a violent patient at Eric Martin Pavilion beat a
psychiatric nurse so severely that she may never work again. He punched
her. He kicked her to the ground. Then he beat her head repeatedly
against the hard floor. The same patient assaulted other nurses after
that incident. After another violent incident in March 2010, the
patient was removed from the Eric Martin Pavilion and transferred to a
corrections facility - where he then assaulted a corrections officer.
In April 2010, the Health Sciences Association called on WorkSafeBC to
After a thorough inspection, WorkSafeBC issued orders compelling VIHA to
protect workers from violence in the workplace. HSA is demanding that
VIHA immediately comply with all legal requirements of WorkSafeBC.
"That includes regular risk assessments," Johnson said. "It also means
improving hospital intake protocols to ensure that care can be provided
safely. We have also been calling on VIHA to increase security support.
"With proper safety precautions and systems in place, incidents like
these are preventable. When patients are known to be violent and
unstable, VIHA must make sure health workers are informed of past
violent behavior, and the potential for more. Hospital security and
safety is a serious issue. I hope no one dies before VIHA acts on their
responsibility," Johnson said.
In recent years, WorkSafeBC has fined VIHA a total of $225,000 for
failure to take measures to prevent violence at Nanaimo Regional, West
Coast General, and Campbell River Hospitals
"For the first set of violations at Nanaimo General and West Coast
General, VIHA was fined $75,000," Johnson said. "For the second set -
at Campbell River - the fine doubled because the violations were so
WorkSafeBC has said the fines related to the violations at Eric Martin
Pavilion and Adanac will be even more severe.
"Is this where our precious health care dollars should be going? Fines
because of safety violations?" Johnson said.
HSA represents registered psychiatric nurses who work in acute care,
long term care, mental health, and home support. With 900 hours of
training in psychiatry and mental health, RPNs are the caregiver of
choice in mental health. RPNs are a founding profession of the Health
Sciences Association, the union representing more than 16,000 health
care and social service professionals in hospitals, child development
centres, transition houses and other community agencies across BC.
Related: See article in The Tyee: "Protect Us from Assaults, Say Psych
SOURCE Health Sciences Association of British Columbia
For further information:
Miriam Sobrino, Director of Communications, Tel: 604.439.0994 / Cell: 604.328.2886