WorkSafeBC has ordered a provincial school district to beef up violence prevention in workplace training protocols after three workers recently refused work over aggressive and violent behavior from an autistic student.
According to a report from Canadian OH&S, on March 29, a pair of workers at Topham Elementary School in Langley refused work, followed by a third worker on March 31. After the employer, the Langley School District, investigated the work refusals and made some minor alterations to its crisis response plan, WorkSafeBC was contacted on April 4 by one of the workers, says an inspection report from the workers compensation board. (WCxKit)
The investigation resulted in a pair of orders. The first is that the "three workers exercising their right to refuse unsafe work and any other workers who are required to respond to the student who is demonstrating aggressive and violent behavior in a crisis situation are trained in the Crisis Response Plan to ensure their risk of injury is minimized."
The second order directs the school district to form site- and task-specific procedures addressing work environment arrangements, "such as a safe area(s) which could minimize worker risk of injury from the specific student violent and aggressive behavior which has been occurring since January 2011."
As of the release of the report on April 7, the employer was using an administrator's office as a safe area, which WorkSafeBC says is inappropriate in the situation due to the type of room and its location relative to the classroom.
The report notes that since September, 2010, the employer has reported 16 physical and/or threatening incidents between students and workers, although it has blacked out the number of incidents that involve the specific student. (WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Donna Freeman confirms that portions of the inspection report have been "severed" as required by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act).
Even though the crisis response plan outlines a "crisis prevention intervention" (CPI) protocol to be followed, the report says, "Workers have not been specifically trained in this protocol and related emergency response. Controls have not been effective in minimizing worker risk to violence and aggressive behavior." (WCxKit)
The three workers involved in the work refusal have "certainly had really negative health impacts," a spokesperson for the Langley Teachers Association says. "Most people can understand that high school teachers still can be confronted with violence in the classroom. I think it is more surprising to hear that little kids… can inflict injuries on people and can have aggressive and violent behaviors."
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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