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Ontario taking action to better protect health-care workers

| www.cos-mag.com

Ontario is establishing a workplace violence prevention leadership table in health care, to better protect health-care professionals on the job.

The health-care sector represents 10 per cent of Ontario's labour market. Due to the nature of their work, health-care workers face a number of workplace hazards including exposure to infectious diseases, ergonomic hazards, slips, trips and falls, as well as violence.

Workplace violence in the health-care sector costs the health-care system about $23.8 million annually for hospitals alone and violence claims make up 10 per cent of the lost-time injuries in hospitals, said the government.

"Workplace violence is a serious hazard in the health-care sector and that's simply not acceptable. We need to prevent violence before it happens. I look forward to seeing and acting on the recommendations from the leadership table so we can move toward safer working environments where every person working in the health care sector feels safe," said Kevin Flynn, Ontario's minister of labour.

The members of the leadership table will bring together key stakeholders and experts, including patient advocates, to provide advice on how to reduce and prevent workplace violence for health-care professionals. To start, the table will focus on how to prevent violence against nurses in hospitals, followed by preventing violence against all hospital workers and preventing violence in the broader health-care sector. Based on the advice of the leadership table, Ontario will develop a plan to:

• make hospitals safer

• reduce incidents of workplace violence in hospitals and the broader health-care sector

• change attitudes toward workplace violence and improve workplace safety culture regarding violence.

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