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B.C. health authority fined $355K for insufficient response to care home violence

The entrance to Peace Villa, a long-term care home attached to Fort St. John hospital, is seen in a Google Maps image captured in September 2018. The entrance to Peace Villa, a long-term care home attached to Fort St. John hospital, is seen in a Google Maps image captured in September 2018.

Repeated failures to properly address violent incidents at a long-term care home in Fort St. John, B.C., have resulted in a $355,244 fine against the local health authority.

WorkSafeBC issued the administrative penalty against Northern Health following an inspection at Peace Villa that was prompted when a worker was attacked by a resident.

"WorkSafeBC examined the employer's investigation reports for this and several previous incidents and found that they all lacked key information such as underlying causes and corrective action," reads a summary of the penalty decision posted online Wednesday.

The inspector ultimately determined Northern Health had failed to "take sufficient precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries or illnesses," or to "exercise due diligence to prevent these circumstances."

Administrative penalties are issued to motivate employers to comply with occupational health and safety rules. Employers, workers, unions and other parties have the option of requesting a review of penalty decisions within 45 days.

In a statement, Northern Health told CTV News is will be "assessing the penalty" and providing additional information to WorkSafeBC about steps that have already been taken to address safety concerns at the long-term care home.

Officials also said the health authority's injury rate is "lower than the provincial health-care average."

"In Peace Villa, our measurable rates are trending positively, (including) reduced violent interactions," the statement added.

Northern Health cited "administrative challenges" that have made it difficult to complete robust investigative reports, and said officials have proposed more funding to "improve the provincial incident investigation platform" to help staff fulfill their obligations.

The B.C. Nurses' Union said the fine against Northern Health underscores "system-wide failures" to protect health-care workers on the job, and called for an audit of every occupational health and safety report filed across the province over the last year to ensure they were done properly.

In a statement, union president Aman Grewal acknowledged the government's plan to hire hundreds of new security officers for hospitals and health-care facilities, but said the incidents in Northern Health show "there is much more that needs to happen within health authorities to make worksites safer for nurses and all health-care workers."

WorkSafeBC's summary did not detail any of the incidents that were investigated at Peace Villa. The BCNU told CTV News it could not provide any further information on safety concerns at the care home. Top Stories

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