Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Healthcare Company Fined Over Workers' Safety at Rikers

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Federal labor officials have issued a hefty fine to a health care company contracted to provide health services to Rikers Island inmates, saying they disregarded the safety of their employees.

Corizon Health is facing $71,000 in safety violation fines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration started investigating conditions at the jail in February. OSHA says it has witnessed six different violent incidents involving the company's workers since that time.

One account details an employee being locked in a cell by an inmate.

"We documented numerous instances where health care providers were assaulted, many of them were splashed with body fluids or unknown liquids. Some were physically assaulted and many were threatened or intimidated," said OSHA Deputy Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson.

OSHA says it found the rate of abuse increased from eight cases in 2011 to 39 last year. It recommends several safety solutions including a panic alarm system and protective barriers.

Corizon Health responded by saying, "We have cooperated fully with OSHA in its investigation, providing hundreds of documents as requested, and providing access to managers and other employees for interviews. We believe we are in full compliance with OSHA."

Corizon was given 15 days to either comply with or contest the accusations.

This report comes just days after the justice department revealed in a scathing report that teenagers jailed at Rikers are subject to excessive violence.

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