KELOWNA - A Kelowna long-term care facility has been fined almost $5,000 by WorkSafe B.C. for failing to complete a workplace violence risk assessment.
Avonlea House, operated by Avonlea Care Centre Ltd., was assessed the penalty in late December after a year long attempt by WorkSafe B.C. beginning in 2016 to get compliance from the company.
As a company with over 20 employees it is required to maintain a health and safety committee which is tasked with conducting the assessment. Despite a site visit and a series of requests for compliance, none was forthcoming, according to the inspection report provided by WorkSafe B.C.
Healthcare is one of four occupations, along with manufacturing, construction and forestry, ranked as high-risk sectors for workplace injuries.
While it may not seem obvious — who get’s injured in a hospital? — health care contributed 18 per cent of time loss claims to WorkSafe B.C. last year while representing just 11.1 per cent of the population.
While most injuries in the health care sector are related to patient care —sprains and strains as they’re known — 12.5 per cent of claims are related to violence against workers by patients, their friends and families and sometimes complete strangers.
“That doesn’t sound like a huge amount but those injuries can be very serious,” WorkSafe lead prevention manager Jacqueline Holmes says, causing not just physical but psychological trauma to its victims.
While the penalty levied against Avonlea House isn’t as large as it would be for something like a workplace death, Holmes says it shows how serious her organization considers workplace violence.
Holmes says the definitions of violence and the reporting procedures are laid out in B.C.’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and ignorance of them is no excuse.
“We expect organizations to be proactive in these areas and carry out these assessments,” she adds. “If they don’t know what to do we’ll help them.”
Beyond that, Holmes says WorkSafe B.C. has a range of options from citations and warning letters, all the way to court injunctions.
Holmes would not comment directly on Avonlea, saying only the public notice of the penalty shows the company had run the gamut of sanctions and had reached the end of the line.
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