safety article
Corizon Health Cited for Lack of Workplace Violence Safeguards

OSHA says a company providing medical, dental and psychiatric services to inmates at Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City has been cited for failing to protect its employees against workplace violence and assault.

Corizon Health Inc. has been issued one willful violation for failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees. OSHA found that the number of workplace violence incidents involving Corizon Workers at Rikers Island rose from eight in 2011 to 39 in 2013. Six workplace-violence-related incidents occurred between Feb. 11 and May 14, 2014 alone at the correctional facility.

The incidents included threats, physical assaults, the locking of an employee in a cell block by an inmate, and the circulation of a “hit list” of Corizon staffers targeted by inmates. OSHA is proposing $71,000 in fines against the company.

“Corizon was aware of the workplace violence incidents. Its employees lost more than 280 days of work in 2013 and 2014 due to workplace violence incidents. Yet the issue has not been addressed sufficiently,” says Richard Mendelson, OSHA’s assistant regional administrator in New York. “For the safety and well-being of Corizon’s employees at Rikers, effective change is necessary and needed now.”

Elements of an effective workplace violence prevention program could include, but may not be limited to:

  • Administrative controls, including jobsite hazard assessment, evaluation of existing controls, and implementing new policies, procedures and incident reviews.
  • Engineering controls, including the installation of panic alarm systems and protective barriers, and configuring treatment areas to maximize an employee’s ability to escape from workplace violence.
  • Personal protective equipment, such as personal alarm systems for all staff, and an appropriate system and way to contact security/correctional officers.
  • Training encompassing workplace violence prevention, stress management, recognition of signs of potential violence and post-incident procedures and services to treat employees who are traumatized by a workplace violence incident.

Related content:

Share this safety talk with your workers to help them deal with incidents of workplace bullying.

Incidents of workplace violence are frequently preceded by warning signs, as was the case in this horrific story involving the brutal random stabbing deaths of two workers and the serious injuries of four others in a food warehouse in western Canada.

If you are in Canada: Domestic violence often spills into the workplace. Here is a model domestic violence policy you can adapt to address this serious workplace safety and mental health issue.

If you are in the United States:  Use this 12-step game plan to deal with workplace violence issues in your company or organization.


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