Correctional facilities are known for dangerous conditions, but a Mississippi correctional facility exposed employees to workplace violence through circumstances that could have been corrected, according to OSHA, which has leveled a half-dozen violations against the GEO Group, Inc. – operator of the Meridian correctional facility in question.
"Prisons may be inherently dangerous workplaces, but the employer is still required to take every reasonable precaution to protect corrections officers and other staff against safety and health hazards, including assaults," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson.
The agency says the company endangered its employees by failing to fix malfunctioning cell door locks, provide adequate staffing and provide required training to protect employees from incidents of violent behavior by inmates, including stabbings, bites and other injuries. Proposed penalties total $104,100.
The company also received a repeat violation for failing to conduct medical evaluations for workers required to wear respirators (a similar violation was cited in November 2010 at GEO's Pompano Beach, Fla., facility) and serious violations for failing to conduct a fit test for employees required to wear respirators, have a written exposure control plan for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens and complete a personal protective equipment hazard assessment.
One other-than-serious safety violation has been cited for failing to provide a written energy control procedure for workers exposed to electrical shock hazards.
The GEO Group Inc. is a correctional and detention organization with approximately 80,000 beds and 116 facilities located in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. The company's East Mississippi correctional facility houses 1,318 low, medium and high security inmates, as well as inmates with mental illness.
Information on workplace violence is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/The_GEO_Group_Inc_315306803_06_11_2012.pdf*,