Interior Health gets stiff fine, closes Princeton facility | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health gets stiff fine, closes Princeton facility

Interior Health was fined recently by Worksafe B.C. for more than $625,000 for failing to ensure the safety of its workers at a Princeton drop-in facility in 2016.

PRINCETON - The Interior Health Authority has been fined more than $600,000 by WorkSafe B.C. following an assault at a Princeton mental health drop-in centre.

WorkSafe B.C. investigated an assault at the Anchorage Clubhouse, operated by Interior Health in Princeton, in August 2016.

A fine totalling $628,034.57 was imposed on the health authority on June 27.

According to the WorkSafe report, a worker was with a client in the drop-in centre, located on Kenley Avenue,  when a member of the public tried to access the office.

When denied entry, the person assaulted both the worker and the client.

WorkSafeB.C. determined the employer had not conducted a violence prevention risk assessment and had not developed specific violence prevention measures taking into account the risks associated at the drop-in centre.

Interior Health was penalized for failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers as well as for failing to conduct an assessment of violence risks to its workers.

WorksafeB.C. also noted the violations were high-risk, and had occurred before.

Interior Health operated the clubhouse until the incident, following which the program was closed immediately.

The Kn ala Inclusion House Mental Health Program most recently operated out of the same address.

Interior Health Communications Consultant Karl Hardt announced it was closing the location on July 6, citing safety concerns about the building following release of the WorksafeB.C. report.

“Safety is a key priority for us at Interior Health,” said Danielle Cameron, mental health and substance use health services administrator for IH Central. “IH has reviewed the findings of the WorkSafe BC investigation into the 2016 incident, and determined that the Kenley Avenue is not suitable from a safety perspective. For that reason, we have asked the service provider to cease operations at their current building and find a new location within 90 days.”

Interior Health contracted out the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society to operate the mental health drop in centre. The society continues to run regular activities  for clients in the community.

"It is important to note that this incident took place in 2016. Since this incident, Interior Health has devoted time and resources to embedding a culture of safety that reaches from frontline staff to our CEO and Board, and we have made significant improvements in our practices and policies since this incident occurred. Safety remains a top priority for Interior Health,” Interior Health Vice President of Human Resources Mal Griffin said.

"As part of these improvements, we have completed violence risk assessments of all Interior Health locations and these assessments are reviewed and updated on an annual basis. We agree with WorkSafeB.C. that violence risk assessments are important and required, because they identify the physical supports needed to help keep people safe,” he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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