Health & Safety
Document Download: Occupational Health and Safety: A Guide for ONA Members (updated October 2012)
Document Download: Special Report: Nurses Were Sacrificed - 10 Years After SARS
Document Download: New York State Nurses Union: A Reference Guide for Controlling Health Hazards to Hospital Workers (posted November 22, 2013)
SARS and the workplace murder of ONA member Lori Dupont were health and safety consciousness-raising events for everyone in health care. The sector contains some of the most complex working environments and some of the highest rates of injury and illness in the province, but has only relatively recently awakened to occupational health and safety. Many were surprised by what the late Justice Campbell wrote in his SARS Commission report, Spring of Fear, released in 2007:
Hospitals are dangerous workplaces, like mines and factories, yet they lack the basic safety culture and workplace safety systems that have become expected and accepted for many years in Ontario mines and factories...
He said there is a lot at risk with occupational health and safety in health care:
If workers are not protected from health and safety hazards, patients and the public are not protected either. It’s that simple.
Despite the serious stakes around worker and patient safety, Ontario’s health-care employers are lagging far behind industrial health and safety leaders. ONA hopes that Ontario’s health-care sector will one day embrace occupational health and safety as an unconscious core value as “automatic as breathing …a precondition” in workplaces where our members work in environments where health and safety is second nature and in which employers regularly exceed minimum standards.
But for now, we still hear about nurses who suffer violent attacks causing serious injuries, the unprotected tuberculosis and other exposures causing disease that workers bring home to their families, employers who do not report critical injuries, unprotected exposures to antineoplastics and other health care toxins. Much remains to be done and we hope the resources on this website will help all of you in your important efforts to keep our members safe and healthy.
Statement of Beliefs: Occupational Health & Safety
The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) believes that it is the right of all its members to work in a healthy and safe work environment. It further believes in the pursuit of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations. As one of the largest health care unions in the province and in the country, ONA believes it is part of its mandate to exercise a strong leadership role in achieving progressively greater gains in the field of occupational health and safety.
Statement of Beliefs: Violence
The Ontario Nurses’Association (ONA) believes it is the right of all its members to work in an environment that is free of violence.
Violence in health care is a growing concern as health care workers are at the highest risk of violence in the workforce. Supervisors and employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of our members. Policies, procedures, appropriate staffing, equipment and other safety measures must be in place to reduce the risk of violence.
Violence, also known as abuse, can be defined as any act of violence, including physical, verbal and sexual abuse, harassment, including sexual harassment, threats, intimidation or anything that offends or humiliates, etc.
Employers and supervisors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act must take every precaution reasonable for the protection of our members. It is ONA’s position that, in circumstances where the supervisor is made aware of a potential or known hazard regarding violence and does not take every precaution reasonable for the protection of our members, the employer and supervisor is in violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and can be held liable under the Act.