For immediate Release:

Monday, December 1, 2014

Assault on Social Worker and Increased Incidents of Violence Towards Workers Concerning for NAPE President

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) President Carol Furlong is voicing her concern about increased incidents of violence and threats towards the workers NAPE represents.

The concern expressed by Ms. Furlong comes on the heels of a recent assault of a social worker. Last week, a Social Worker with the Department of Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) was punched and knocked to the ground by a CYFS client. The worker was sent to the hospital but has since been released. According to Furlong, what is most alarming about this incident is that special protective measures had been put in place for this meeting and yet the client still managed to assault the employee.

According to Furlong, social workers are often faced with situations that may place them in harm’s way. In particular, they may be placing themselves at risk when conducting certain home visits alone. Situations where workers are left alone or have to deal with clients in isolation of other workers is of particular concern to NAPE.

“In recent weeks, the public has been made aware of violent situations involving our prison and court staff. What is not as well known, however, is the violence and threatening behavior that is also faced by a growing number of members who work in other jobs, particularly in Health Care and CYFS,” said Furlong. “It is apparent that these acts of violence are not simply isolated incidents, but part a troubling and growing trend in workplaces across the province.”

Furlong said that employers need to give this issue urgent attention. “Employers should review their policies and, if needed, put in place measures for enhanced security and response protocols to ensure that workers are properly protected and prepared for a potentially violent situation in the workplace. It is extremely unfortunate that we are seeing increased violent incidents in our workplaces, but it is a reality we must face head-on by ensuring that the appropriate measures are taken to reduce the potential for harm to our members at work.”

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For further information please contact:

Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator

(phone) 709.570.2501  (cell) 709.631.9737   (e-mail)