"This facility has an atrocious record when it comes to violent incidents and refusing to address the causes is completely unacceptable.” — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (11 Oct. 2016) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) has successfully pushed the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) to fine the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission over $171,000 due to extremely dangerous conditions at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.
History of health and safety violations at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital
Union members at the hospital have been urging the employer to introduce safety measures to protect workers. They have called for both investments in equipment and upgrades to the facility, as well as new policies and procedures to make the worksite safer. The hospital was fined $75,000 in 2014 for similar health and safety issues following a stabbing incident that resulted in serious injury to a worker.
Since 2013, WorkSafeBC has issued more than 44 orders to the employer mostly due to their failure to protect workers from violence. Despite these multiple orders, the employer has failed to take sufficient precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries or illnesses.
Provincial government needs to intervene
“Workers should be free from all violence and health risks at work,” says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “The Provincial Health Services Authority needs to intervene at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital to address these issues immediately, before any more workers get hurt. This facility has an atrocious record when it comes to violent incidents and refusing to address the causes is completely unacceptable.”
There are several outstanding WCB orders at the hospital, some dating as far back as April 2014. This administrative penalty stems from a December 2015 order citing the employer for 7 outstanding orders that the employer would not address for a significant period of time.
BCGEU/NUPGE members educate themselves on right to refuse unsafe work
BCGEU/NUPGE members at the facility have participated in a number of union training sessions on their right to refuse unsafe work and have worked closely with health and safety worker representatives to address conditions. Unfortunately, little action has been taken by the hospital’s management.
The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital houses up to 190 patients who have been deemed either unfit to serve trial, or criminally not responsible for their crimes, due to mental illness. The BCGEU/NUPGE represents 130 health care workers, 30 rehab workers, 25 dietary workers, 15 special provincial constables, and 7 social workers at the facility.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE