SUN Position Statement on Violence
Violence means the attempted, threatened or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause injury. Workplace violence includes any physical or sexual assault from a patient, client, resident, volunteer, supervisor, manager, member of the public, or co-worker. Verbal abuse and threatening language or behaviour are also forms of violence.
Violence is prevalent and under-reported in health care environments and is a significant source of injury and distress for registered nurses. Violence can have long-term impacts on the workplace and on registered nurses’ physical and mental health and well-being. Violence negatively affects outcomes for patients and families, registered nurses, and organizations.
By law, employers must develop, implement, and review at least every three years, a comprehensive written policy statement and prevention plan to deal with potentially violent situations, in consultation with occupational health and safety committees, union representatives, and workers themselves.
Violence policies and plans must include:
- The employer’s commitment to minimize or eliminate risk;
- The identification of worksites and staff positions for which there is a history or risk of violence;
- The actions the employer will take to minimize or eliminate the risk of violence;
- The procedures to be followed to document, report and investigate violent incidents; and
- A commitment to providing a training program for workers to recognize potentially violent situations and to follow the procedures, work practices, administrative arrangements and controls that have been developed to minimize or eliminate risk.
Every workplace must cultivate a culture of safety and respect based on the shared responsibility of all healthcare stakeholders, including employers, patients and families, registered nurses and other employees, government and community agencies, and nursing professional, regulatory, labour, and accreditation organizations.
By documenting and reporting violent incidents, SUN members can contribute to raising awareness about the scale of workplace violence, help identify strategies to reduce risk and make workplaces safe. Documenting and reporting violence contributes to a workplace and professional environment that refuses to normalize violence.
Registered nurses have the right to work and practice in an environment that is free from any form of violence and where violence is not tolerated as a part of their job.
- Canada Labour Code, R.S.C., 1985
- Canadian Nurses Association and Canadian Federation of Nurses. Workplace Violence and Bullying. Retrieved from: http://cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/Workplace-Violence-and-Bullying_joint-position-statement.pdf
- Government of Saskatchewan. (2012). Preventing Violence in the Workplace. Retrieved from: https://www.saskatchewan.ca/business/safety-in-the-workplace/hazards-and-prevention/preventing-violence-in-the-workplace
- Kvas, A., & Seljak, J. (2014). Unreported workplace violence in nursing. International Nursing Review, 61, 344-351. doi: 10.1111/inr.12106
- The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario. (2008). Violence Against Nurses: ‘Zero Tolerance’ For Violence Against Nurses and Nursing Students.
- Roche, Diers, Duffield, & Catling-Paull. (2010). Violence Toward Nurses, the Work Environment, and Patient Outcomes. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 42(1):13-22
- Saskatchewan Employment Act. Sec 3-21. 2012
- Stevenson, Jack, O’Mara, & LeGris. (2015). Registered nurses’ experiences of patient violence on acute care psychiatric inpatient units: an interpretive descriptive study. BCM Nursing, 14:35.
-  (Government of Saskatchewan, 2012)
-  (Kvas & Seljak, 2014)
-  (Stevenson, Jack, O’Mara, & LeGris, 2015)
-  (Roche, Diers, Duffield, & Catling-Paull, 2010)
-  (Sask. Reg. 75/2012, s. 3)
-  (Sask. Reg. 75/2012, s. 3)
-  (RNAO, 2008; Canada Labour Code, 1985; CNA and CFNU, n.d.)
Right to Refuse Violent Situations
An Employee who has reasonable grounds to believe she may be physically endangered when attending a client shall not be required to attend that client. When an incident demonstrates that client's behaviour may constitute a risk to the safety of another client or staff member, a meeting shall be convened within 24 hours, or as soon as possible thereafter, to consider and implement alternative options for care delivery to ensure the safety of the Employee(s) and other client(s).
What To Do If You Have Experienced A Violent Incident
First and foremost, during a violent situation the safety of patients/clients/residents, SUN members and their colleagues is of the utmost importance.
It is strongly recommended that all SUN members and their colleagues are aware of the safety protocols and policies in place at their workplace, in the event of a Code White. Each facility and/or Employer should have protocols in place, which may vary from facility to facility.
Ensuring members are aware of the appropriate steps to take following a violent incident is vital to ensuring they receive the medical care and support they need. If you have experienced a violent incident at work:
- Seek medical attention if required. If you need to leave your work area, inform your supervisor.
- Notify your supervisor or manager about all incidents, even if there was no injury.
- Report the incident as soon as possible using the incident reporting process for your workplace.
- If you are injured, complete a Worker’s Initial Report of Injury (W1) either online (wcbsask.com) or over the phone (1.800.787.9288) as soon as possible.
- Contact the Employee & Family Assistance Plan for counselling support, either online (worklifehealth.com) or by phone (1.866.833.7690).
- Tell your SUN representative on the Joint OH & S Committee and participate in any investigation.
- Ask to attend workplace violence training.
- Talk to your manager or supervisor about critical incident debriefing for traumatic incidents.
Education to Reduce Workplace Violence
The Employer acknowledges that Employees may be at risk of violence and injury by clients while carrying out their duties. To alleviate workplace violence, the Employer shall provide training appropriate to the work area that would enable Employees to recognize and respond to potentially violent or abusive incidents. Payment for participating in such training shall be per Article 42.02 (a).
Such courses may include the Workplace Assessment Violence Education (WAVE) training and Professional Assault Response Training (PART), both offered by the Safety Association for Safe Workplaces in Health (SASWH) (www.saswh.ca).
Saskatchewan Workplace Violence Prevention Initiative
The aim of a Provincial Violence Prevention Framework and Strategy, overseen by the SASWH, is to reduce healthcare injury rates through targeted interventions; build a stronger culture of safety; promote the adoption of effective violence prevention initiatives; and, prevent injuries caused by violence and acts of aggression.
Through this initiative, SASWH has established a Provincial Steering Committee to help guide the development of the Workplace Violence Risk Assessment Tool Kit for use in Saskatchewan. The SASWH provides education and training regarding the use and implementation of the online tool kit.
The Steering Committee was comprised of representation from various healthcare employers, unions – including SUN, and education institutions, Workers’ Compensation Board, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, Health Quality Council, and the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
CFNU Workplace Violence Tool Kit
This toolkit is an online hub for resources, research, information, tools and best practices related to violence in health care workplaces. The purpose of this toolkit is to provide a "one-stop-shop" for relevant resources on this topic, to share and spread the implementation of best practices related to violence prevention and return to work programmes in jurisdictions across Canada.