Front-Line Nurses Demand Safety: Call Comes as More RNs Attacked in the Workplace

    TORONTO, Nov. 28 /CNW/ - Three more front-line registered nurses have
been assaulted in the workplace, leading the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA)
to demand immediate legislation to protect RNs and allied health care workers.
    The latest attacks on nurses occurred at Toronto's Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health (CAMH) during the week of November 12. Two of the nurses are
suffering from critical injuries that occurred in the attacks, while a third
has suffered injuries not requiring surgery.
    One of the nurses had been attempting to call a "Code White" (psychiatric
emergency code) for a situation involving a patient. The nurse was attacked in
the nursing station after the patient jumped a half-door. The nurse was taken
to hospital with injuries that include a broken shoulder, while a second nurse
suffered multiple injuries. The patient was transferred to another floor in
the hospital with a more secure environment.
    Another assault occurred at the facility when a patient pushed his way
into the nursing station and attacked the nurse there. Security staff was
unable to enter the unit because a security door required that they be buzzed
in. This nurse was also taken to hospital by ambulance with multiple injuries,
including a broken jaw.
    "This situation is outrageous and is beyond unacceptable," says ONA
President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "We're seeing more and more of these types
of attacks on our front-line nurses." The Occupational Health and Safety Act
requires employers to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances
for the protection of workers from all hazards.
    "These recent attacks show that employers are not taking every reasonable
precaution," she adds. "Therefore, nurses are now demanding the precautionary
principle be embedded in health and safety legislation and adopted in all
employer policies, government directives and regulations." This was the
critical recommendation by the late Justice Archie Campbell in his 2007 SARS
final report, to keep health-care workers safe in the workplace. A resolution
and action plan is before the delegates this week at the OFL 50th anniversary
    Haslam-Stroud believes that every health-care worker must be protected
from all forms of violence, including violence perpetrated by supervisors,
visitors, workers, domestic violence and unpredictable and unstable patients.
    "It is devastating to hear about nurses being attacked," says Danielle
Latulippe-Larmand, RN, the ONA Bargaining Unit President who represents CAMH
nurses. "We need every precaution in place to ensure our safety, particularly
in settings where we are dealing with potentially unpredictable and unstable
    The Ministry of Labour has been called in to investigate the attacks at
CAMH. One procedure at the facility has been modified at the request of the
hospital's Joint Health and Safety Committee, with security doors no longer
requiring access by buzzing staff in.

    ONA is the union representing 53,000 front-line registered nurses and
allied health professionals working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care
facilities, public health, the community and industry.

For further information:

For further information: Sheree Bond, ONA, cellular - (416) 986-8240;
Melanie Levenson, ONA, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369

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Ontario Nurses' Association

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