Violence is defined as "the attempt or actual exercise by a person, other than a worker, of any physical force so as to cause injury to a worker, and includes any threatening statement or behaviour which gives a worker reasonable cause to believe he or she is at risk of injury." Occupational Health and Safety Regulation Part 4.27
Workplace violence is the third leading cause of injury to nurses. From 2006 – 2010, WorkSafeBC accepted over 700 claims for nurses who were injured and disabled from work due to violent incidents. Because research shows that incidents of workplace violence are significantly under reported in healthcare, it is estimated that the actual number of violent incidents occurring each year is significantly higher. In addition, healthcare workers experience a greater number of time loss injuries due to an act of violence than any other occupation in BC. Violent behavior from patients, clients, family members and members of the public is often accepted as part of the normal work environment in healthcare settings. Workplace violence is not part of the job. All incidents of violence must be reported to the worker’s supervisor and investigated.
In accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, a risk assessment must be performed where the risk of violence arising out of employment may be present. Where a risk of injury to workers from violence is identified, an employer must establish procedures, policies and work environment arrangements to eliminate or minimize the risk. An employer is also required to educate, train and supervise workers in safe work practices to prevent injuries from violence. All of this is to be done in consultation with the Regional Violence Prevention Committees and the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees.
In 2006 the BCNU negotiated contract language on preventing workplace violence. In 2008 employers agreed to display violence prevention signs in all health care facilities across British Columbia (Click Here to view sign). These were first steps in creating awareness about the growing problem of violence against health care providers.
The BCNU Occupational Health and Safety department works with the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee members, stewards and employers to ensure that violence prevention programs are established at all work sites.
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