District’s Incident Reporting System Tackles Chronic Problems

Like too many health care workers in Canada and the United States, health care members in District 6 struggle with short staffing, a problem that can quickly escalate into higher rates of workplace violence and patient injuries.

Last year, the District 6 Health Care Council decided to put some hard data behind their concerns, creating an online incident reporting system so that they could track the volume and nature of the problems in their workplaces.

“When we first started the council about four years ago, it was a way for people to get to know each other and share their stories,” said Audra Nixon, president of the District 6 Health Care Council. “And we kept coming back to the same thing, shortage of staff.”

Yet, it’s difficult to get employers to take these sorts of concerns seriously without statistics, said Nixon. As more workers report their experiences, the union becomes better armed with real numbers going into bargaining and arbitration.

The online form asks members questions about the nature of the incident he or she is reporting, including whether it resulted in physical or verbal abuse of a worker. It also allows members to report what they believe to be the root cause of the problem, be it chronic understaffing, understaffing due to sick leave, lack of training, excessive overtime or another cause.

So far there have been around 60 incidents reported, and the council, which meets twice a year, is working to spread the word so more people know how to report their concerns.

Because so many of the health care locals in the district are facing the same challenges, Nixon said it is important that they all work together to hold employers accountable for short staffing and violence in the workplace.

“We want to try to incorporate more and more of the locals to be a part of this,” said Nixon. “We need to be able to say to employers, ‘Here are the issues, and here’s what we need.’” 

Health care workers in District 6 can access the reporting form here.

For more information about the form or the council meetings, you can also email the District 6 Health Care Council at healthcare@usw.ca

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