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OSHA Cites Corizon for Inadequate Workplace Safety on Rikers Island

Listing numerous instances of its medical, mental health and dentistry employees being assaulted by Rikers Island prisoners, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Corizon Health, Inc. for willful violation of Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act of 1970 by failing to provide a workplace that was "free of recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to the hazard of workplace violence." Corizon faces $71,000 in fines, including a $1,000 fine for "failing to review and certify correctly the OSHA 300A illness and injury reporting form."

"OSHA found that the number of workplace violence incidents increased from eight in 2011 to 39 in 2013. In addition, during the course of OSHA's investigation, six workplace-violence-related incidents occurred between February 11 and March 14, 2014. These included threats, physical assault, a Corizon employee locked in a cell by an inmate and the circulation of a hit list of Corizon staffers targeted by inmates."

"Corizon failed to address the serious problem of assaults against its employees until OSHA began its inspection," according to OSHA Region 2 administrator Robert Kulick. "Corizon needs to develop and implement an effective, targeted workplace violence prevention program that includes administrative and engineering controls, as well as personal protective equipment and training, to reduce the risk of violence against its employees."

Administrative controls include hazard assessments, implementation of new policies and incident reviews. Engineering controls include protective barriers, panic alarm systems and configuring the workplace to allow an employee to escape from a potentially violent situation.

Sources: OSHA Citation and Notification of Penalty for Inspection No. 957758, dated August 7, 2014, OSHA Region 2 News Release: 14-1409-NEW.

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