Violence and Safety in the Workplace
There has been a lot of coverage about violence against caregivers on the job. Hopefully you will never experience this but it is good to be aware.
A good practice to follow is to always carry information with you that can help you in an emergency, including:
Contact information listing the people to call should you be in an emergency situation where you and/or your client’s health or safety is threatened.
Information on all the standard and emergency exits for the home or building that you are in.Â This information should also include the steps to take to both respond to an emergency and exit the building.
Details explaining the location and procedure for getting emergency equipment in the home for your safety and health care and that of your client.Â For example, a fire extinguisher, first aid kits, etc.
A study by York University found that 43% of personal support workers endure physical violence at work on a daily basis. The study goes on to note that most of these workers are women and many are immigrants “or from marginalized racial groups.”
The timing of this violence most often occurs as the worker is assisting the client with daily activities, like bathing, dressing and feeding. Sometimes clients are not ready for these activities and may challenge personal support workers in a way that is violent. Be aware of this trend and pay special attention to clients who show this kind of behaviour.
Caregivers working for a family as a nanny or mother’s helper might also be at risk of experiencing violence from others in the household such as the employer or other family members. This isn’t mean to alarm you as most working situations are very safe. But there are ways for you to be careful – so take note.
It is important for you to know that employers who hire live-in caregivers are required to provide private living quarters for the person hired.Â You should make sure that your private living quarters is securely locked at all times, whether you are in there or not.
Your livelihood depends on you being healthy and able to work. You can’t afford to be injured and if your client is being violent that may be a sign that there are more serious issues affecting him or her. Their frustration may be due to poor communication, a deterioration of a health ailment, or general poor attitude. Whatever the problem is it is to your benefit to respond accordingly to any violent outbursts.
Many provinces provide for workers’ compensation benefits that will pay your wages if you get sick or are injured as a result of work related incident. It’s in your best interest to know your rights in this regard.
If you’re unsure about the steps to take following an injury or illness you think is work related, it is good to know that in many provinces there are offices or advocates for injured workers that can be contacted for more information. In Ontario, the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) is an independent agency of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. To contact your local OWA office (no matter where you are located in Canada) you can call this toll-free Canada wide number: 1-800-435-8480.