In an article published September 17, the Herald released a report they obtained through the FOIPOP process from the Department of Justice regarding incidents at the Central NS Correctional Facility (CNSCF), or the Burnside Jail, covering the period of time from Jan 1, 2011 to July 3, 2014. (click here for report)
It is clear to see the difficult circumstances Correctional Officers work in from the numbers in the report. There are 110 incidents of staff assaults. Over a period of three and a half years (42 months) that means there were over two staff assaults per month.
The Herald also reported that the weapon of choice for inmates who assaulted staff has been fecal bombs. This is a mixture of bodily fluids and other materials which water down the feces so it can be thrown at Correctional Officers and other inmates.
This is not new to the Correctional Officers who work in an incredibly difficult environment every day on behalf of the public. They do their work with pride, knowing it is an important job and a vital public service. We commend Correctional Officers for the work they do at every correctional facility across the province, 24hrs a day 365 days per year.
Correctional Officers have the right to work in a safe workplace; everyone does. It is your right under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. No one should go to work and fear for their safety.
Correctional Officers and NSGEU staff, including our Occupational Health and Safety Officer, sit on a Joint Occupational Health & Safety Working Group with management at the Burnside jail. Together, we are undertaking a “violence in the workplace” review of the entire institution. Our members look to management for support in the workplace and we also expect management support for recommendations that will continue to improve the health and safety of the front line staff and maintain a safe working environment.
It is clear from this FOIPOPed incident report that there is much work to be done.
Let us take this opportunity to thank Correctional Officers for their dedication to this important public service, show them the respect they deserve, and continue to do everything possible to create a safe work environment in the future.