Workplace safety and health improvements needed

Publish date: Thursday, April 28, 2016

CFNU

As we mark the National Day of Mourning,  honouring the lives lost and those forever changed due to workplace injuries or illnesses, we renew the call on employers and governments to make workplace safety and health a top priority.

Every year, thousands of nurses are injured on the job. In fact, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) 2014 statistics, the health and social services sector had the highest number of lost-time injuries in Canada – 41,141 accepted claims - surpassing mining, quarrying and oil wells, construction and manufacturing. This finding holds true in most provinces, suggesting a nationwide problem.

Last year in Manitoba, there were a total of 4,484 workplace injuries in the health care sector, placing health care in third place for the most injury claims. Included in this figure, there were 2,100 time loss injuries for health occupations, accounting for 13 per cent of all total time loss injuries.

A closer look at the causes of lost-time injuries in health care shows the growing prevalence of injuries due to violence.

In Manitoba, more than half the nurses have been physically assaulted and more than 30 per cent of those working in ERs, long term care and on psych units report being physically assaulted weekly.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the story is no different where injury rates due to assaults and violent acts have more than doubled between 2007 and 2014.  In Ontario. workplace violence costs hospitals about $23.8 million annually.  While in British Columbia, the injury rate for health care workers, due to violence, was 15 times the number for the law enforcement sector.

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