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Brockville Mental Health Centre continues reckless behaviour toward employee health and safety

We the North
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(Toronto) The Ontario Public Service Employees Union has taken another step to try to force the Brockville Mental Health Centre to fulfill its legal obligations to provide employees with safe working conditions.

On September 16, 2015, a 71-year-old part-time registered practical nurse and Local 439 member, was attacked by a patient in the Forensic B4 Unit and suffered three lacerations to her neck and one to her wrist.  The patient has a documented history of violence, including stabbing a nurse in the neck with a pen.

Just before this incident the employer had introduced a new restraint garment specially made for the patient. But the employer did not consult with the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) on the development of the restraint garment, as required by law. Nor did it consult with the JHSC on a training program for the safe use of the restraint garment.

“Yet again we have employees put at risk by the employer failing to act responsibly. Our workers shouldn’t be subjected to assaults. They know their jobs are important and need to be done, but they reasonably feel that the province should strive to keep them safe,” said OPSEU President  Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“This is not an isolated incident,” said Thomas. “The Brockville Mental Health Centre is a chronic reoffender, and seems indifferent to the law. This has got to stop.”

Forensic unit patients are persons accused of a criminal act that are not criminally responsible or who are unfit to stand trial that are subject to a detention order because they require a secure mental health bed.

There have been more than 24 assaults since October 2014 at Brockville Mental Health Centre in the past year, including employees being grabbed by the neck, kicked, or pushed against a wall.

The September 16 incident was followed by a Ministry of Labour inspection, which did not fault the employer. On Friday, Oct. 16, OPSEU filed an appeal of a Ministry of Labour Inspector’s order.

OPSEU believes the employer failed to meet its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).  It failed to provide training on the use of a new restraint garment to be worn at certain times by a patient in the forensic unit with a documented history of violence.

It also failed to consult with the Joint Health and Safety Committee on the development and implementation of the new restraint garment and the training program to be provided to workers to use the restraint garment in the course of performing their job duties.

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For more information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, OPSEU
613-329-1931