A Melbourne health service has been fined $25,000 without conviction after a nurse was assaulted by a patient with aggressive and violent behavioural issues.
The service pleaded guilty to 1 contravention of Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) for failing to provide the information, instruction and training necessary to allow workers to perform their work safely and without risks to health.
A nurse was attending to a patient when she was physically assaulted (hair pulled, pushed, punched, head butted and kneed in the face).
The nurse was unable to reach a wall-mounted duress alarm and had to scream for help.
The nurse was later admitted to hospital with concussion, bruising to the eye and scratches, and the assault followed several incidents in which the patient aggressively grabbed employees.
A subsequent WorkSafe Victoria investigation found employees were exposed to risk by the employer’s failure to:
The regulator said in a subsequent safety alert that employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.
This duty requires employers to control risks to health and safety; employers should eliminate risks where possible.
This duty includes providing employees with enough information, instruction, training or supervision to do their work safely and to maintain safe systems of work.
When providing health services, employers should identify and assess patients or clients who may pose an OVA risk, and if a patient or client is identified as posing an OVA risk: