BRONX, NY - Two more state employees who work at the Bronx Psychiatric Center (BPC) were assaulted at the facility Wednesday, December 15. Both were severely beaten by a patient at the facility and had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. The assaults happened one day before a rally outside BPC to draw attention to workplace violence.
"Far too many of our members who work at BPC arrive each day in fear, not knowing if this is the day they will become the next victim of workplace violence," said Kenneth Brynien, president of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF). "Being kicked, punched or thrown into a wall should not be part of the job."
Members and leaders of PEF gathered outside the facility during a noontime rally today to call attention to the high price of workplace violence. Participants chanted, "Am I Next," and "Stop Workplace Violence" as they listened to employees describe the dangerous work conditions inside the facility.
"Last month, 21 employees were assaulted on the job, including six employees who were attacked on the same day," said Darlene Williams, an occupational therapy assistant at BPC. Williams, an outspoken critic of management's failure to address workplace violence, is among 28 employees targeted to be laid off.
"This facility can't afford to loose any more staff," said PEF Vice President Pat Baker. "They also can't afford to lose a strong voice in this fight against violence. Bronx PC has been cited by the state Department of Labor for failing to comply with the state law requiring development of a program to prevent workplace violence. The facility is ranked among those with the highest rate of workplace-violence injuries in the state. It's time our state leaders hold this facility responsible for the safety of our members and the patients."
Staffing levels at the center are down significantly due to workplace injuries. The BPC suffered 6,462 lost work days in fiscal year 2009-10 due to injuries at the center. Workers' compensation costs totaled more than $1 million for the same time period.
"This is a cost the state cannot afford in terms of taxpayer dollars and injuries to employees." Brynien added.