The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the GEO Group Inc., who own and operate the Meridian correctional facility in Mississippi, for numerous health and safety violations amounting to over $100,000. Many of these citations were due in part to a lack of workforce training that could have been curtailed had there been an effective use of an online OSHA training program.
The East Mississippi correctional facility under question houses 1,318 medium and high security inmates, as well as many inmates with mental illness problems.
"This employer knowingly put workers at risk of injury or death by failing to implement well-recognized measures that would protect employees from physical assaults by inmates," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "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."
The citations against the correctional facility were failing to knowingly provide adequate staffing, fix malfunctioning cell door locks and provide required training to protect employees from incidents of violent behavior by inmates. These citations were all willful safety violations, that induced a $70,000 penalty.
Other penalties included a repeat health violation that had occurred in one of GEO's facilities in Florida, as well as two serious health and safety violations.
Because correctional facilities can be uniquely dangerous workplaces, these employees may need extra workforce training procedures. While many guards and employees are highly trained professionals before they start working the position, the use of an online training software with an emphasis on OSHA regulations may help other facilities avoid these types of infractions and subsequent fines.
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