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(Updated with NSHA response) Formal Complaint Filed Against NSHA/ECFH

** NSHA response added below

Formal Complaint Filed Against NSHA/ECFH

Almost seven months after a pregnant NSGEU member was viciously assaulted while working at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, a co-worker of the victim is filing a formal complaint with the Occupational Health & Safety Division of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

“This issue has been ongoing since April, but little to nothing has been done by the employer, the Nova Scotia Health Authority or the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to address our members’ legitimate health and safety concerns,” said NSGEU President Jason MacLean.

“Enough is enough, and I applaud this member for stepping forward to protect not only herself, but every worker and patient in that facility.”

Background:

Before the incident in April, on February 23, 2018, in accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act, the following concerns were submitted to NSHA management:

Concerns that Personal Security Alarms (PALs) were not consistently in working order;

The PAL is triggered by using a slide button, the tape being used to hold the PALs together prevented the emergency slide button from being easily activated;

The secondary alarm is triggered by pulling a string to remove the bottom plate, this is also hindered by the use of tape

A request for a qualified independent violence in the work place risk assessment be conducted.

These, along with other health and safety concerns, were not addressed to the satisfaction of the employees, so on March 28, 2018, a report was submitted to the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee. In a follow-up meeting on April 16, 2018, the employees were told a violence in the workplace risk assessment would be “a waste of time.”

“One week after having their safety concerns dismissed, a nurse was attacked. If not for others hearing her screams, who knows what the outcome could have been for her and her unborn child?” says MacLean. “For too long the NSHA has turned a blind eye to the safety concerns of nurses and health care worker who are doing their best to hold a broken health care system together. These are dedicated women and men who are committed to caring for sick and vulnerable people. They must be given the tools to do their jobs safely.”

Following the incident, the NSGEU had offered to work with the NSHA on finding solutions, but the response received was that the NSHA would address the issue. Now, almost seven months after the attack, staff members still feel unsafe at work, and as a result, this formal complaint has been filed today.

“It is unfortunate that the NSHA has shown such low regard for the safety of their employees. It’s now time for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to get involved and initiate an independent violence in the workplace risk assessment,” said MacLean.

To read a copy of the complaint letter that was submitted, please visit http://www.nsgeu.ca/filemanager/pdf/ECFHComplaint.pdf

NSHA

The safety of our patients and staff is always the first priority of Nova Scotia Health Authority. While we appreciate NSGEU has identified concerns, we disagree with their assessment of the progress to date. Prior to and following the incident at East Coast Forensic Hospital in which a nurse was assaulted, hospital managers and NSHA Health, Safety and Wellness staff have worked together with facility staff and the union to hear and address workplace safety concerns. We have met with NSGEU leadership a number of times on this issue and will continue to do so.

Much focused attention has been placed on safety, including considerable work undertaken by the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee, which includes union and management representation. We look forward to reviewing any future recommendations from the committee to foster and support a culture of health and safety within the facility. Both nursing and security staffing have been increased.

In addition to conducting its own review as per legislation, NSHA has also participated in a Department of Labour and Advanced Education review following the assault incident and complied with all resulting orders. These include providing additional clinical nurse education, conducting risk assessment planning and communication, providing safety training and drills.

In addition, a new personal alarm communication system has been purchased, installed and tested and is now in use to enhance the safety of staff. Design plans to update the closed circuit television monitoring systems and increase the number of cameras within the facility are progressing, with installation expected to be complete in the spring of 2019. Detailed consideration has been given to proper placement in the facility to avoid blind spots and to best provide safety for employees and patients.

Mental health and addictions leaders continue to work closely with Department of Justice to ensure the safety of all working or in care at East Coast Forensic Hospital.

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Source : Media Release

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