BCGEU met with Workers Compensation Board (WCB) managers on March 7 to express our concerns about the levels of violence in the health and community social services sectors.
The health and community social services sectors have been included in the WCB’s 2017 “high risk strategy” because of the sheer number and gravity of incidents from this sector. The prevention of violence is WCB’s main objective due to health care being disproportionately represented in time loss claims, accounting for over 63% of all violence related claims in the province. WCB statistics show that violence claims have doubled in number going from 600 claims in 2005 to 1200 claims in 2016.
Prevention officers will be conducting a point of care inspectional process at targeted worksites and they will utilize a violence inspection checklist. Point of care interactions between workers and patients/clients pose the greatest risk of injury to healthcare workers. During our meeting with WCB managers the BCGEU stressed that our members are frequently exposed to the risk of violence as the employer repeatedly neglects to inform workers about a patient/client’s potential for violence. The employers in this sector often cite confidentiality in their refusal to disclose information about patients. The WCB managers were very clear; employers are legally required to provide this information to any worker that may come into contact with a violent client. Here is a link to a communication bulletin produced by the WCB.
Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Section 4.30 states:
4.30 Instruction of workers
(1) An employer must inform workers who may be exposed to the risk of violence of the nature and extent of the risk.
(2) The duty to inform workers in subsection (1) includes a duty to provide information related to the risk of violence from persons who have a history of violent behaviour and whom workers are likely to encounter in the course of their work.
(3) The employer must instruct workers who may be exposed to the risk of violence in
(a) the means for recognition of the potential for violence,
(b) the procedures, policies and work environment arrangements which have been developed to minimize or effectively control the risk to workers from violence,
(c) the appropriate response to incidents of violence, including how to obtain assistance, and
(d) procedures for reporting, investigating and documenting incidents of violence.
Although your work requires you to interact with vulnerable patients or clients, it is still a worksite and you are protected by the same legislation as a worker in any other industry.
You have the right to know if the person you may come into contact with has a history of violence and you must be provided with the education, training and work environment arrangements in order to protect yourself from injury.
For more information about WCB’s high risk strategy in healthcare, click here.
Contact ohs@bcgeu if you have any questions.