Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and mental-health services to inmates at correctional facilities nationwide, including the Rikers Island facility in New York City, will implement changes to reduce workplace violence hazards for employees at its locations.

Part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, the changes resolve citations issued by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In August 2014, OSHA cited Corizon for failing to develop and implement an effective program to prevent workplace violence for its Rikers Island employees. Corizon initially contested the citations, but has withdrawn that contest as part of the settlement agreement.

A dominant position

"While Corizon is taking corrective action at Rikers Island, it will expand that effort and change its practices at hundreds of locations to enhance safety for countless employees," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

"This corporatewide settlement is significant, given Corizon's dominant position in the correctional health care industry. It has the potential to improve how workplace violence issues are addressed by employers throughout the industry," said Jeffrey Rogoff, the department's regional solicitor of labor in New York.

What will change

The agreement commits Corizon to adopting comprehensive and specific abatement measures at its facilities. These measures encompass safeguards contained in OSHA's "Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers*." In consultation with employees and unions, each location will develop the following:

  • A workplace violence prevention policy.
  • An incident reporting system.
  • Enhanced record-keeping procedures.
  • A workplace violence hazard assessment and prevention program.
  • Employee training.

The settlement also requires Corizon to appoint a senior official to oversee compliance with the settlement agreement and the Occupational Safety and Health Act; allow OSHA to conduct inspections to monitor compliance; and seek greater coordination with local departments of correction or similar agencies that work with Corizon facilities. The company will also pay a fine of $38,000.