Employers must 'do everything under the act to protect and safeguard workers and patients'
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has charged Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. with nine counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) for a critical workplace violence incident involving a registered nurse and a security guard in January 2019.
Seven counts alleged breaches of section 25(2)(h) of the act regarding taking every precaution reasonable, and two counts alleged breaches of section 25(2)(a) regarding providing information, instruction and supervision to a worker.
"We are hopeful that these charges will set a precedent for other employers in the province in that they must do everything under the act to protect and safeguard workers and patients," said Vicki McKenna, president of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).
The charges came nearly one year after a registered nurse was viciously attacked while at work and a security guard was injured. Since the incident, the union has tried repeatedly to convince the hospital to put several measures in place to protect workers and their patients, but the measures were not implemented, McKenna said.
"ONA worked tirelessly, pressuring the ministry and the attorney general to press charges against this employer for its gross disregard of the OHSA, and its obligation to protect staff and patients. It is clear that the inspectors have worked diligently to gather the evidence to support these charges,” she said.
In an earlier press release, the union said that Southlake has seen numerous violent incidents against nurses and other health-care professionals since 2013.