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Nova Scotia nurses looking at on-the-job dangers

Janet Hazelton
Janet Hazelton

TRURO, N.S. – It may come as a surprise, but health care workers are most likely to experience violence in the workplace.

This week the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union (NSNU) is holding its AGM in Truro and about 300 nurses have gathered to address topics such as violence and dangers in the workplace.

NSNU President Janet Hazelton pointed out the dangers are in more areas than the emergency department.

“Sometimes it’s in the geriatric, psychiatric or recovery areas,” she said. “People have no right to yell and scream at the nurses. We’re doing the best we can.

“Sometimes the danger is from slips, trips and falls. Nurses are often required to lift people three times their weight. There’s often a lack of staff and equipment, and if someone is fainting and falling down you do what you can to stop their fall.”

She noted VON nurses are sometimes injured because driveways and walkways aren’t cleared of snow and ice, or because they’re working in a home where stairways don’t have railings.

Nurses have had hospital equipment thrown at them and had their heads slammed into walls. Because they experience such a high rate of violence the Government of Nova Scotia pays $60 million per year for Worker’s Compensation coverage.

“It’s not just the money, it’s the people,” said Hazelton. “No one wants to be ill or injured.”

She understands people can become frustrated while waiting for a family member or friends to be treated but she urges them to consider what’s going on behind the scenes.

In order to get their message across a new television ad will be launched during Nursing Week, the second week of May.

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