For most people in British Columbia, going to the hospital is something they do to get well. However, for many workers in the health care industry, hospitals are the very places that put them at risk for a workplace injury. In fact, a recent study by the Canadian Federation of Nurse Unions reveals that going to work can be a dangerous thing for nurses.
While only 15 percent of workers in other industries say they are victims of abuse or assault on the job, a shocking 61 percent of nurses say they routinely face harassment and mistreatment at work. While many nurses say the abuse is mostly verbal, more than 40 percent of injuries resulting from workplace violence are suffered by nurses. The profession with the second highest rate of injuries from violence was law enforcement at 14 per cent.
As a result, nurses have a high rate of absenteeism to recover, both physically and mentally, from their injuries. In an environment that is statistically more prone to violence, nursing advocates say many areas need to be addressed, including risk management. There are specific laws that protect bus drivers and require stricter sentencing in criminal cases involving assault against a public-transit operator, but there is nothing comparable for health-care workers.
Fortunately, nurses in British Columbia do have protections from workers' compensation if their injuries require medical treatment or time off work. However, psychological trauma from an assault may be a difficult thing to prove to an employer or insurance company.
Source: theglobeandmail.com, "Workplace abuse comes at steep cost for nurses, taxpayers", Jared Lindzon, June 28, 2017
Preston I.A.D. Parsons is a lawyer practicing employment law with Overholt Law in Vancouver. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (778)-653-7561.