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Forensic Psychiatric Hospital fined $171,000 for worker safety violations

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The Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission has been fined $171,000 over “extreme” safety concerns at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam, commonly known as “Colony Farm.”

The hospital houses up to 190 patients, “who have come in conflict with the law and are deemed unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible due to mental illness.”

That includes convicted child-killer Allan Schoenborn, who killed his three children in 2008.

Failure to protect

It’s the second time in recent years the hospital has been fined due to dangerous working conditions. The facility was fined once before by the Worker’s Compensation Board in 2014 for failing to protect its employees from violence.

BC Government and Service Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith says conditions on the ground mean employees are constantly at risk.

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“We know there was an incident where a security officer was restraining a violent patient, the security officer was brought down and suffered a head injury. We certainly don’t want to see a fatality happening out there because the employer continues to ignore what our members are saying.”

Smith describes another situation in which just two staff were asked to move 18 dangerous patients from one area to another of the facility. She says they refused.

“The fine that’s been levied in September is a big wake up call. I would certainly be fearful going into a work site where I felt that my employer wasn’t taking my concerns seriously.”

Last October, the BC Nurse’s union reported one of its members had been sucker punched by a patient in the facility’s maximum-security unit.

Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission

But the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission says the safety and well-being of their staff and patients is paramount.

“We have worked diligently to meet all of the requirements set by WorkSafeBC to ensure the safety and security of staff and patients at the hospital….Forensic Psychiatric Services (FPS) continues to look for ways to improve treatment, safety and security and has previously achieved exemplary standing for our performance in these areas by an independent organization, Accreditation Canada,” said Provincial Executive Director Angela Draude in a statement.

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Draude says they continue to have conversations with union representatives and WorkSafeBC to review safety improvements.