Hospital charged by Ministry of Labour with violations of Occupational Health and Safety Act

In Jan. 2019, a nurse was attacked and a security guard was injured at the workplace

Hospital charged by Ministry of Labour with violations of Occupational Health and Safety Act
Photo by Jeff Hitchcock (https://flickr.com/photos/91281489@N00/23489591408)

The Ministry of Labour has filed charges against Southlake Regional Health Centre for breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Roughly a year after a workplace violence incident at Southlake took place, during which a registered nurse was attacked and a security guard was injured, nine counts under the OHSA were laid against the hospital, seven for violations of s. 25(2)(h), which requires the employer to take every precaution reasonable, given the circumstances, to protect workers, and two for violations of s. 25(2)(a), which states that an employer must provide information, instruction and supervision to workers to protect their health or safety. 

Earlier this month, Ontario Nurses’ Association, which represents over 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, had called on the province to act.

“The legal window of opportunity to charge Southlake closes under Ontario law in mid-January,” said Vicki McKenna, ONA president, in a news release dated Jan. 20.

ONA alleged that the hospital had failed to meet its obligations to secure the scene and to report the incident to the proper authorities. ONA also said that it had urged the hospital to adopt certain measures, such as self-protection training for staff, following the incident, but to no avail. 

According to a report by Bonnie Lysyk, Auditor General of Ontario, released in late 2019, the number of health-care sector injuries had increased by 29 per cent from 2013 to 2019.

ONA welcomed the filing of the charges, stating that it had “worked tirelessly, pressuring the Ministry and the Attorney General to press charges against this employer for its gross disregard of the OHSA, and its obligation to protect staff and patients.” 

“We are hopeful that these charges will set a precedent for other employers in the province in that they must do everything under the Act to protect and safeguard workers and patients,” McKenna said in the Jan. 20 news release, after the charges had been filed.

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