Parksville Stabbing - BCGEU


Background

On January of 2015, a client with dementia stabbed a community health worker that was attending to his wife in their home. Fortunately for the worker, she reacted quickly by grabbing the knife out of his hand and threw it under the bed where he couldn’t reach it. This prevented further injury to her as she escaped the house. Also fortunately for the worker, the client’s dementia prevented him from recalling that he had a loaded handgun in his closet.

WCB Investigation

The employer in this case, Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), was penalized for failing to protect this worker. The WCB investigation found that the employer had failed to inform the worker of the client’s dementia or his tendency to become aggressive. This worker had also not received any violence prevention training so she did not recognize the triggers or early warning signs of his impending attack.

In the summer of 2016, the Vancouver Island Health Authority requested a review of the WCB orders written against them because the employer stated they should not be held accountable for the worker’s injury. The BCGEU participated in this WCB review even though the injured member was from the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). The BCGEU provided a submission in support of the orders written against the employer because the resulting decision could potentially affect our members that work in community health.

Community health workers are exposed to unique health and safety hazards because of their work space, in private homes. Working with clients in their private homes presents challenges to community health care workers that other healthcare workers are not faced with. For example, community health workers work alone and finding help during an emergency is difficult. Risk assessments are not carried out properly and often the client’s rights supersede those of the worker. In this case, the employer knew about a shotgun locked in a cabinet in the basement but could not identify who held the key to the cabinet. The employer had no knowledge of the loaded handgun in the closet and was not discovered until the police attended the incident.

The Union’s position

Community health workers should never have to face incidents of violence like this. Unfortunately we just learned that VIHA has failed to inform workers under their umbrella about this incident or any implementation of corrective actions to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring.

The recent imposition of a $75,000 administrative penalty against VIHA should force this employer to examine and improve their prevention of violence program. We encourage you to learn more about this incident from your employer and discuss this with your worker health and safety representatives.

To read a copy of the recent local media release, click here http://www.pqbnews.com/news/island-health-fined-after-employee-stabbed-in-parksville/

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Mah, BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Officer at wendy.mah@bcgeu.ca or call 604-291-9611.

 

Download PDF of notice here

Local 467/MoveUp

Background

On January of 2015, a client with dementia stabbed a community health worker that was attending to his wife in their home. Fortunately for the worker, she reacted quickly by grabbing the knife out of his hand and threw it under the bed where he couldn’t reach it. This prevented further injury to her as she escaped the house. Also fortunately for the worker, the client’s dementia prevented him from recalling that he had a loaded handgun in his closet.

WCB Investigation

The employer in this case, Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), was penalized for failing to protect this worker. The WCB investigation found that the employer had failed to inform the worker of the client’s dementia or his tendency to become aggressive. This worker had also not received any violence prevention training so she did not recognize the triggers or early warning signs of his impending attack.

In the summer of 2016, the Vancouver Island Health Authority requested a review of the WCB orders written against them because the employer stated they should not be held accountable for the worker’s injury. The BCGEU participated in this WCB review even though the injured member was from the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). The BCGEU provided a submission in support of the orders written against the employer because the resulting decision could potentially affect our members that work in community health.

Community health workers are exposed to unique health and safety hazards because of their work space, in private homes. Working with clients in their private homes presents challenges to community health care workers that other healthcare workers are not faced with. For example, community health workers work alone and finding help during an emergency is difficult. Risk assessments are not carried out properly and often the client’s rights supersede those of the worker. In this case, the employer knew about a shotgun locked in a cabinet in the basement but could not identify who held the key to the cabinet. The employer had no knowledge of the loaded handgun in the closet and was not discovered until the police attended the incident.

The Union’s position

Community health workers should never have to face incidents of violence like this. Unfortunately we just learned that VIHA has failed to inform workers under their umbrella about this incident or any implementation of corrective actions to prevent a similar incident from reoccurring.

The recent imposition of a $75,000 administrative penalty against VIHA should force this employer to examine and improve their prevention of violence program. We encourage you to learn more about this incident from your employer and discuss this with your worker health and safety representatives.

To read a copy of the recent local media release, click here http://www.pqbnews.com/news/island-health-fined-after-employee-stabbed-in-parksville/

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Wendy Mah, BCGEU Occupational Health and Safety Officer at wendy.mah@bcgeu.ca or call 604-291-9611.

 

Download PDF of notice here

Local 467/MoveUp