ONA wins fight for improved safety at Brockville Mental Health Centre
May 31, 2016
In a major win for the health and safety of registered nurses at work, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) has successfully appealed the Ministry of Labour’s non-issuance of specific orders to improve the safety and security of RNs and other front-line health-care workers in the forensic treatment unit at Brockville Mental Health Centre.
The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre at its Brockville Mental Health Centre site has been ordered by the Ontario Labour Relations Board to install a new electronic and alarm system to summon immediate assistance, provide better staff training and hire properly trained security who must be present in the forensic treatment unit 24 hours a day, seven days week. Security officers will perform routine and random patrols of the care units, respond to emergency codes, and respond as directed by clinical staff. In addition, the hospital must develop – in collaboration with ONA and other unions as well as the Joint Health & Safety Committee – a flagging policy and procedure to identify patients with a risk of workplace violence, their behaviours, triggers, control measures and procedures to protect workers.
In addition to the new, properly trained security professionals in the forensic treatment unit, a main security office will be located within that unit, security cameras installed and monitored, staff training will be improved and include specialized defense from sharp-edged weapons, and a consultant, agreed to by the parties, will conduct a written risk assessment of the unit.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, says, “ONA expects the Ministry of Labour to enforce the laws about worker health and safety and hold employers responsible when they do not comply. Had the employer fulfilled its obligation to provide a safe work environment, we could have avoided a lengthy litigation and costly process and instead invested taxpayers’ money into patient care. We are very pleased to announce that this order will finally see safer care for patients and a safer workplace for RNs and all health-care providers.
Brockville Mental Health Centre was charged with five infractions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to protect its workers stemming from an incident in 2014 in which a registered nurse was stabbed multiple times in the head and neck by a patient. ONA appealed the orders written by the Ministry of Labour with regard to this incident.
“This employer had been resisting any pressure to take additional measures to keep our dedicated registered nurses and health-care workers safe while they provide quality patient care to these very ill patients,” said Haslam-Stroud. “Nurses know what is needed to keep them safe, and we are finally seeing action. ONA will closely monitor that the employer implements this order across all sites. As nurses, we should never have to face violent attacks while providing the care our patients require. Our patients and our RNs will be safer for this decision. Violence is not part of our job.”
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.