WORKSAFEBC has levied a $646,304.88 administrative penalty to Forensics Psychiatric Hospital (FPH). This is the largest penalty issued by WSBC in the history of the province. The penalty covers two separate incidents involving nurses in the spring of 2018. The employer failed to maintain a safe workplace for staff and failed to assess and control the risk of violence at the site.
The BC Nurses’ Union said it is reviewing the penalty and considering its options, including the ability to request that the penalty funds be reinvested back into safety and violence prevention solutions. The assaulted nurses remain physically and mentally traumatized and violent attacks on members and staff still occur at the site.
There are over 200 BCNU members at the Coquitlam facility who work with the most clinically challenging patients in the province and the union said the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) must do more to protect them and other health care workers.
“We support WorkSafeBC’s decision to impose the administrative penalty, as this validates the concerns nurses have been documenting and reporting for years. BCNU had been pushing the employer to address safety concerns and members’ fears,” said BCNU President Christine Sorensen. “If nurses do not feel they are safe from physical attacks they cannot focus their attention effectively on the patients’ health care needs.”
The employer is finally moving in the right direction with the hiring of forensics safety officers that BCNU has been calling for, but they need to act with more urgency, said the union.
“BCNU will continue to work with PHSA to implement and evaluate practices to improve safety at FPH,” said Sorensen.
The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital represents the highest number of violent incidents with time loss related injuries across PHSA. The hospital has had longstanding issues related to workplace violence:
* In 2016, (FPH) received a penalty of $15,000 for failing to train supervisors and workers regarding their responsibilities related to health and safety in a timely manner. Though the fine was altered upon appeal.
* In 2014, the hospital was fined $75,000 related to the failure to instruct workers exposed to violence, assess risk and for the failure to control the risk of violence in the workplace.
* In 2012, a health care worker was stabbed in the workplace by a patient of the facility.
Further penalties can be issued to PHSA, the next time a nurse or health care worker is assaulted. Given this fact, Sorensen said: “It is of considerable financial interest for the employer to provide a safe working environment for all staff and be mindful of the fact that taxpayer dollars should not be spent on record making fines.”