The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is pleased that Royal Ottawa Health Care Group is at trial this week, facing three charges from the Ministry of Labour for failing to keep staff safe. The charges stem from an incident at the Royal Ottawa Place Recovery Program in which nurses suffered injuries due to an attack at work.
ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, says that, "the number of incidents of workplace violence that nurses and health care workers endure is outrageous. At just two large Ontario hospitals, our members have told us that there have been 1,500 documented attacks on workers to date this year alone. This is just the tip of a very concerning iceberg of violence reports that ONA receives weekly from many health care facilities across the province,” she said.
"Enough is enough," says Haslam-Stroud. "We should never be attacked while caring for our patients or their families.”
In this incident, a patient with a history of previous assaults allegedly cornered three nurses and badly beat two of them. ONA believes that the incident could and should have been prevented, and in a precedent-setting move, the Ministry of Labour has charged Royal Ottawa Health Care Group with three infractions, including one under a "new" violence section of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Royal Ottawa Health Care Group faces charges of failing to develop measures and procedures for immediate assistance for the workers; failing to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers; and failing to provide supervision, information and instructions to protect workers' health and safety.
The attacks took place in July 2012; since then, this employer has had another critical injury to an ONA member from violence at another of its sites, and ONA is appealing the failure of the Ministry of Labour to issue appropriate orders.
ONA is the union representing 60,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.