WorkSafeBC has levied its largest ever penalty against the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.
The union representing workers at the Colony Farm hospital announced Thursday the compensation board has issued a more than $600,000 fine against it.
The administrative penalty, $646,304.88 all told, covers two separate incidents in spring 2018 when BC Nurses’ Union members were assaulted because the “employer failed to maintain a safe workplace for staff and failed to assess and control the risk of violence at the site,” the release said, adding that the assaulted nurses remain physically and mentally traumatized.
The hospital, which treats people who are deemed unfit to stand trial or are found not criminally responsible because of mental illness, has had longstanding issues related to workplace violence, including a stabbing in 2012. It has the highest number of violent incidents with time loss-related injuries across the Provincial Health Services Authority.
Despite increased security and staffing changes announced by the PHSA in September 2018, violent attacks on members and staff still occur at the site, the union said.
“We support WorkSafeBC’s decision to impose the administrative penalty, as this validates the concerns nurses have been documenting and reporting for years,” said president Christine Sorensen.
“If nurses do not feel they are safe from physical attacks, they cannot focus their attention effectively on the patients’ health-care needs.”
While the union said the employer is moving in the right direction with the hiring of forensics officers, “they need to act with more urgency.”
For its part, the union said it’s reviewing the penalty and considering its options, including the ability to request that the funds be reinvested into safety and violence prevention.
Further penalties can be issued to the PHSA the next time a nurse or health-care worker is assaulted, the release said.