NORTH BAY, ON — A poll of North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) staff conducted earlier this week shows “staggeringly high rates of workplace violence with virtually no resolve from the hospital,” said Michael Hurley president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) that commissioned the poll.

What’s more said Hurley at a media conference to release the poll findings, “it’s a grim and concerning reality that despite the fact incidents are happening almost daily, workers fear reprisal and incidents are under-reported”.

The majority of respondents said that in the last year, in the workplace they had experienced at least one incident of physical violence, but many said they had experienced nine or more occurrences.

The poll shows that registered practical nurses (RPNs) and personal support workers (PSWs) doing direct patient care, are dealing with disproportionately higher rates of workplace violence. 85 per cent of the nurses and PSWs polled experienced incidents of physical violence such as pushing, hitting or having things thrown at them in the last year.

59 per cent of the poll respondents are RPNs or PSWs. Of those respondents 73 per cent are women. 41 per cent of respondents provided other important support services at NBRHC.

A high number, 81 per cent also indicated they witnessed incidents of physical and non-physical violence toward co-workers in the last year.

53 per cent of nurse and PSW respondents had experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault either physical or non-physical in the last year.

“These workers are largely women. This is violence against women that’s being allowed to happen here. In what other workplace would sexual harassment and sexual violence, at this level be tolerated?” Asked Sharon Richer, OCHU north eastern Ontario vice-president.

The poll also points to a climate of intimidation in the workplace and an under-reporting of incidents. 51 per cent responded that they are afraid of reprisal if they speak up about an incident of violence. The poll shows that there are far-more incidents of violence experienced by respondents than are actually reported.

“The findings show violence is pervasive in this workplace. It’s an unsafe work environment where something is standing in the way of workers reporting incidents. There is a fear of reprisal if you report. There is also under-reporting, which is linked to reprisal. There is no doubt people are afraid to speak out,” said Hurley.

For more information please contact:

Michael Hurley
OCHU President

Sharon Richer
OCHU, Vice-President North Eastern Ontario

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications