B.C. psychiatric hospital fined $650,000 for failing to protect its workers

The fine is the largest such administrative penalty

WorkSafeBC has fined the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital almost $650,000 for failing to protect the safety of its workers.

The workplace safety agency says the fine is the largest such administrative penalty and was imposed because the hospital in Port Coquitlam didn’t ensure the safety of its workers with adequate risk assessments, policies and training to prevent violence.

The hospital is a 190-bed facility that treats and rehabilitates people who come into contact with the law but are deemed unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible for a crime because of a mental disorder.

READ MORE: 2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

The BC Nurses’ Union says the penalty stems from separate incidents involving nurses last year and that both nurses remain physically and mentally traumatized by the attacks.

WorkSafeBC says in a statement that the same employer has received an administrative penalty for related violations in the last three years.

The Provincial Health Services Authority says it has been working with the union and WorkSafeBC to address safety issues at the hospital and has made improvements since the incidents occurred last spring.

READ MORE: South Okanagan man who attacked his doctor wins appeal

“Staff safety is paramount to us and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure we provide a safe working environment for our staff,” Lynn Pelletier, vice-president at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services, said in a statement.

It says the improvements include hiring more security and clinical staff, adding more clinical supervision and upgrading the facility.

The union says the fines validates concerns that nurses have been reporting at the facility for years and the employer is now moving in the right direction by hiring forensic safety officers.

The Canadian Press

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