Workers' Compensation Safety Board of Nova Scotia

Recommendations on Improving Safety in Community Emergency Departments Accepted (Jan 24/16)

The following news release was issued by the Premier's Office

The province has accepted 12 recommendations to improve safety and security in community emergency departments. 

A working group tasked with finding ways to improve safety at community emergency departments presented its recommendations today, Jan. 20.

"The safety of nurses, physicians, staff, patients and families at emergency departments across the province is very important to all of us," said Premier Stephen McNeil. "I thank this group for its time and expertise. We accept these recommendations. We want to work with our partners in health care. Helping to improve workplace safety is good for all of us."

Recommendations include: 

- have the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and unions work together on ways to reduce workplace violence 
- perform risk assessments for each community emergency department to determine their safety and security needs
- implement a provincial workplace violence prevention program, including training, debriefing and investigation procedures for staff
- offer education such as non-violent crisis intervention training to staff
- give staff who may be alone with patients or family members communication devices to call for help if needed
- set up an NSHA-wide system to track incident and injury reports, training records and compliance reports, and provide data for future safety planning
- put an alert system in place that will notify other staff of potential danger and if a patient needs specialized care
- ensure staff can report workplace violence in multiple ways such as on paper or with a smartphone or tablet 
- update emergency planning policies and ensure that staff know how to respond to incidents if and when they occur
- develop a protocol that will ensure unions are notified of significant workplace violence incidents so they can help support staff along with the NSHA.

The report is available at novascotia.ca/dhw.

"Our committee of employers, unions, government and other key stakeholders is proud to present a positive strategy resulting from a very serious workplace incident," said Janet Hazelton, president, Nova Scotia Nurses' Union. "Violence is not part of any nurse's or health-care worker's job. Regardless of the situation no one should feel threatened or unsafe in their workplace. Much remains to be done, but this is an important step in the right direction."

The NSHA will put the recommendations into place over the coming months and will report back to the province in a year's time.

"The report builds on many of NSHA's efforts since its creation to develop a provincial approach to workplace safety with consistent training, programs and policies," said Carmelle d'Entremont, vice-president, people and organizational development, Nova Scotia Health Authority. "The working group is a wonderful example of collaboration to achieve a common goal. The partnerships with unions and other stakeholders will help us better address workplace violence."

The working group consisted of:

- Nova Scotia Health Authority (co-chair)
- Nova Scotia Nurses' Union (co-chair)
- Department of Health and Wellness 
- Department of Labour and Advanced Education
- Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union 
- Canadian Union of Public Employees
- Unifor
- Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
- AWARE-NS
- RCMP
- Paladin Security
- Cape Breton Regional Police Service

To read the full release click here.