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Residential-services sector workers at risk for violent injuries

Injuries inflicted by another person may not be the first thing that comes to mind when the phrase "workplace injuries" is mentioned and yet, such incidents do occur. Sometimes injuries inflicted on a worker by another co-worker, client, or patient are violent and the industry in which these incidents often arise is health care, specifically the residential-services sector.

According to information provided by WorkSafeBC, a quarter of the workplace injury claims filed by employees in this sector suffered their injuries in a violent episode. Over the course of the last 10 years, that is an increase of approximately 50 percent. Between 2003 and 2009 an average of 70 violence claims per year were reported. Between the years of 2009 and 2013 however, that average was much higher--108 per year.

While there are multiple reasons for why those numbers have risen, including an increased awareness regarding the importance of reporting incidents of workplace violence, the head of one group-home operators organization believes the increase in workplace violence reports is directly tied to a flat line in social services funding. Specifically he cites poor pay for social-service workers, more people going to social-service agencies for help and underfunding. Highly stressed clients who are working with inexperienced workers is a recipe for workplace violence to occur.

When a worker is injured on the job he or she may be able to secure workers' compensation benefits from WorkSafe B.C. When these benefits are not granted or are pulled too early, the injured worker may need the help of a lawyer to secure them.

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