By Leigh Johnston
Public hospital workers in NSW will go on strike in response to a dispute with the State Government over the security of staff.
More than 22,000 employees will stop work for four hours on 1 August, fighting for increased security at metro hospitals. The NSW Health Services Union is calling for an additional 250 security staff after a spate of safety incidents involving patients and employees.
NSW Labor health spokesman Ryan Park called on the Berejiklian government to provide additional staff and to improve training so workers can better deal with difficult and drug-affected patients.
The action echoes similar calls in the SA health sector where staff have been attached by violent and drug affected patients.
“Hospital staff are not punching bags. The safety of health workers, patients and members of the public is crucial…,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“There’s a really alarming trend emerging in this sector,” said Employsure Manager of Health and Safety Larry Drewsen. “Staff are working in emotionally-chared environments and with people who may be drug affected.”
Employsure, Australia’s largest Workplace Relations consultancy which advises its clients on workplace health and safety is advising employers in such fields to get urgent professional advice.
“These employers are under a lot of pressure to respond and create safe working environments for situations that are unpredictable and dangerous.
“These are highly skilled individuals trying to potentially save lives, yet they are the ones in harm’s way. Yet they are entitled to a safe workplace.
“This is a highly complex issue and will require the sector working closely with government and community agencies to put practices in place that will protect staff, the people they are trying to help, and the general public.
“Yet there’s a message for all employers to be aware and responsive to the changing nature of workplace safety. Situations change and evolve over time, which is why it’s important for employers of all sizes to be vigilant.”