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Iowa Prisons Fined $92,000 For Prisoner Workplace Accidents

Fines totaling $92,000 were levied in January 2007 by Iowa?s Occupational Safety and Health Bureau against the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC).

In March 2006, a Fort Madison prisoner severed a finger in a table saw in the Prison Industries workshop. Seven months later, another prisoner there suffered a similar accident. Investigation revealed that the saws were not protected by hood guards or kickback prevention devices.
Prisoners assigned to clean up the blood messes were neither instructed on infectious disease protection nor were they provided with any such protection. Separately, IDOC was cited because such precaution was also absent when guards extracted a problematic prisoner from his Newton Prison cell. And in January 2006, a Newton prisoner was electrically shocked while servicing a food service steam table, which he thought had been disconnected first.

Becky Munoz, prisoner industries manager, replied that the injured prisoners either violated prison safety rules or used the saw without permission. She further stated that all employees had been trained on blood spill protective procedures. As to her failure to record any accidents, she said she was unaware that such records were required.

Nonetheless, Health Bureau investigators found that industries management did not ensure that all employees properly washed themselves after potential infectious exposures. In the extraction case, boots and uniforms that were penetrated by blood were not properly removed.
IDOC plans to appeal the fines.

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