BCGEU members that work at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam continue to face unacceptable levels of violence and risk of serious injury. Our members were directed by the employer to release patients from seclusion rooms in spite of contrary advice by the care team. The patients were secluded due to incidents of violence against other patients and workers. They were still exhibiting aggressive behaviours at the time of the direction to release.
Immediately following release, these patients were involved in a violent incident which put our members at risk of serious injury. This employer has repeatedly displayed an unwillingness to hear the worker’s voices and to recognize that their opinions and concerns have merit. Front line workers know the patients and their tendencies better than an employer that rarely comes onto the floor.
Forensic Psychiatric Hospital falls under the mandate of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA). The PHSA is responsible for thirteen organizations and the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital has an obviously poor record when it comes to violent incidents. In a recent annual review, the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital accounted for almost 55% of lost time compensation due to violence - $123,879.50 out of a total of $226,881.18. Days lost to violent incidents for the thirteen organizations totalled 1297 with Forensic Psychiatric Hospital accounting for 837 of those lost days – 64.5%.
We want to remind our members of their right to refuse unsafe work – a right that is protected by the law in British Columbia.
- Step 1 - If you have reasonable cause to believe that carrying out a work process will create an undue hazard to the health and safety of any person, do not carry out the work and report this to your supervisor. The supervisor’s responsibility is to investigate your concern and to eliminate the hazard. If the supervisor doesn’t eliminate the hazard and/or disagrees there is a safety issue, go to
- Step 2 - report the issue to an OHS worker representative of your choice. The OHS worker representative assesses the situation and if the issue is still unresolved, go to
- Step 3 – you and the supervisor must call WCB and report your refusal of unsafe work. A WCB officer must then investigate the issue without undue delay and make a decision.
Only when the WCB officer deems it safe to proceed with the work should you carry out the work.
Keep your OHS worker representative, steward, staff representative or BCGEU OHS officers apprised of the situation so that you can receive the support you need. Under the law in BC, you must not face any discriminatory action for invoking your right to refuse unsafe work. Discriminatory action can include demotion, loss of wages or work, intimidation or discipline.
Click here to access a “refusal of unsafe work” pocket card (Print double-sided and cut to pocket size) and a link to the WCB website. Call us at 604-291-9611 or [email protected] if you have any questions.
Sherry Ogasawara, BCGEU Vice President, Health Services Component 4
Wendy Mah, BCGEU OH&S Officer
Sean Antrim, BCGEU Staff Representative
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