Halifax (02 Nov. 2018) — Almost 7 months after a pregnant member of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) was viciously assaulted while working at the East Coast Forensic Hospital, a co-worker of the victim is filing a formal complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.
"This issue has been ongoing since April, but little to nothing has been done by the employer, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, or the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to address our members' legitimate health and safety concerns," said Jason MacLean, NSGEU President.
"Enough is enough, and I applaud this member for stepping forward to protect not only herself but every worker and patient in that facility," he said.
No action on violent attack leads to labour complaint
Before the incident in April, on February 23, in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the following concerns were submitted to NSHA management by the NSGEU/NUPGE:
- Personal Security Alarms (PALs) were not consistently in working order.
- The PAL is triggered by using a slide button, the tape being used to hold the PALs together prevented the emergency slide button from being easily activated.
- The secondary alarm triggered by pulling a string to remove the bottom plate is also hindered by the use of tape.
In addition, the NSGEU/NUPGE requested that a qualified independent violence in the workplace risk assessment be conducted.
These, along with other health and safety concerns, were not addressed to the satisfaction of the employees, so on March 28, a report was submitted to the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. In a follow-up meeting on April 16, the employees were told that a violence in the workplace risk assessment would be "a waste of time."
"One week after having their safety concerns dismissed, a nurse was attacked. If not for others hearing her screams, who knows what the outcome could have been for her and her unborn child?" says MacLean. "For too long the NSHA has turned a blind eye to the safety concerns of nurses and health care workers who are doing their best to hold a broken health care system together. These are dedicated women and men who are committed to caring for sick and vulnerable people. They must be given the tools to do their jobs safely."
NSGEU/NUPGE offer to help find solutions was rebuffed
Following the incident, the NSGEU/NUPGE had offered to work with the NSHA on finding solutions, but the response received was that the NSHA would address the issue. Now, almost 7 months after the attack, staff members still feel unsafe at work. As a result, this formal complaint has been filed.
"It is unfortunate that the NSHA has shown such low regard for the safety of their employees. It's now time for the Department of Labour and Advanced Education to get involved and initiate an independent violence in the workplace risk assessment," said MacLean.
To read a copy of the complaint letter that was submitted, please visit http://www.nsgeu.ca/filemanager/pdf/ECFHComplaint.pdf.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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