British Columbia

Attack that injured workers at B.C. psychiatric hospital leads to workplace safety orders

Multiple workplace safety violations were identified after three workers were attacked by a patient at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., last month, according to WorkSafeBC.

Assault by patient in kitchen in July at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital leaves 2 with concussions

A picture of the forensic psychiatric hospital behind tree cover. It is behind a tall steel fence and has a red brick exterior.
The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., was the subject of two WorkSafeBC orders last month after an attack on three workers. (CBC)

Multiple workplace safety violations were identified after three workers were attacked by a patient at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, B.C., last month, according to WorkSafeBC.

Two of the workers suffered concussions and one was left with back pain after the assault inside a kitchen, an incident summary says.

In response, WorkSafeBC has issued two orders to bring the hospital into compliance, finding that there were problems with a risk assessment for the patient in question and with the policies for dealing with violence.

"This employer has failed to establish procedures and policies to minimize the risk of violence to workers," occupational hygiene officer Cris Barzan wrote in one of his two orders.

In the other, Barzan wrote that "I determined that the risk assessment for violence did not include circumstances in which the work will take place with this patient."

The orders gave the hospital until Aug. 7 to come into compliance.

The hospital, a 190-bed facility that treats patients with mental illnesses who have been accused of crimes or found not criminally responsible for offences, is operated by the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, which is part of the Provincial Health Services Authority.

CBC has reached out to PHSA for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.

A sign that reads 'Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, 70 Colony Farm Rd., Coquitlam, B.C.'
The hospital has a history of serious workplace safety incidents in recent years. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

Barzan's orders are included in a report on a July 5 inspection of the hospital.

Many key phrases have been redacted in the copy of the report provided to CBC, but it notes a number of "omissions and deficiencies" in the violence risk assessment for this particular patient, including certain triggers and changes in behaviour. The assessment included documents that hadn't been updated in more than a year, the report says.

The hospital's procedures were also found to be lacking, and didn't include steps for preventing violence by patients under certain specific circumstances, which are redacted in the report.

The hospital, about 28 kilometres east of Vancouver, has a history of serious workplace safety infractions over the last decade.

In 2019, the operator was ordered to pay the largest WorkSafeBC penalty issued in the province's history for repeated safety violations after five workers were injured in two separate attacks by patients.

The $646,302 fine was also the statutory maximum at the time.

The employer was also penalized $15,000 in 2016 for failing to comply with WorkSafeBC orders, and $75,000 in 2014 after an attack by a patient in the hospital's high-security unit left a worker with serious injuries.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a journalist for CBC News in Vancouver with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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