Incident at Work? Tell Us About it

Has this happened to you? You’re in bargaining and try to make headway on a common complaint and the employer asks for proof that the situation even exists.

Members of the USW District 6 Health Care Council uncovered a common frustration at their meetings: staff shortages. The council represents 1,700 USW members working in retirement homes, hospitals and long- term care facilities.

Short staffing forces workers to rush through daily requirements of their jobs, says Council President Audra Nixon, a USW Local 9211 executive member and a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at Maxville Manor east of Ottawa.

Insufficient staffing can lead to anxiety for residents, resident falls and injuries to residents and staff, Audra says. When a resident gets upset, this can trigger aggressive behaviour or agitation for other residents. Without enough staff, these situations are more frequent.

Employers wishing to add staffare constrained by federal and provincial funding that hasn’t kept pace. In addition, long-term care minimum standards haven’t changed in 20 years.

When incidents happen at work, stafffeel frustrated and helpless. Frustrations are compounded during bargaining when employers ask for evidence that short staffing is a problem.

The District 6 Health Care Council’s inciden  reporting  project aims to change that. Workers can now report incidents through the health care council website. The goal is to build evidence of short-staffing issues, to support the union in bargaining, arbitrations and political action for better funding and care standards.

Audra encourages USW members in health care to use the site to share their experiences.

“Now we have a place to go, where our members know they’ll be heard.”

Members must also report incidents to their employer. USW union reps are on hand to assist with the reporting process.

The USW project will not divulge specific incidents, but will collect aggregate data on common occurrences to support the goal of positive change.

The project offers a productive outlet to USW members who shouldn’t have to cope silently with guilt and frustration, Audra says. Instead, they can contribute to future improvements in care and working conditions.

For more, visit: www.usw.ca/healthcare.

This article appears in the Fall Edition of News@6.

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