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Implementation is key to success of workplace violence report: OPSEU

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A provincial report released yesterday to reduce violence in health care facilities represents a good start at eliminating the problem but its long-term success will depend on implementing its recommendations, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

The Workplace Violence Prevention in Health Care report, a joint effort by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, made 23 recommendations, some of which, had they been tabled earlier, may have prevented recent attacks on health care workers and clients inside Ontario’s mental health facilities, said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“This report makes clear Ontario has adopted a zero tolerance for workplace violence inside health care institutions,” said Thomas, who represented OPSEU as a member of the study’s Leadership Table, comprised of hospital executives, senior government officials, local health officers and other union leaders. “But zero tolerance will only be achieved if the report’s recommendations are implemented in their entirety and with strict enforcement measures.”

Among the key recommendations are calls for improved communications among hospitals and external care centres so that the receiving facility is better prepared to handle incoming patients for psychiatric assessment which, in turn, limits the risk of violence to healthcare workers and patients.

The report also recommends that the province develop and implement a consistent, minimum training standard for those providing security in hospitals.

Mandatory security training measures – long demanded by organized labour – could have prevented recent high-profile incidents of violence that resulted in serious injuries to health care workers.

“For years, employees have said better security training will result in fewer injuries,” said Thomas. “I’m pleased the report recognizes this relationship. Let’s get on with doing something about it.”

The OPSEU president said the fact that the study was organized by the two ministries working together, was a positive sign. “Too often in the past they’ve worked in siloes, one not knowing what the other’s been up to.  This marks a fresh start in fighting a grave problem.”

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

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