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In a first-of-its-kind settlement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a private correctional company has agreed to reduce violent workplace conditions at all of its facilities across the country
The GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., agreed to implement “comprehensive procedures and policies to better safeguard its workers against the hazards of workplace violence” in every correctional and adult detention facility that it manages in the United States.
The GEO Group oversees 95 facilities and 18,000 employees in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa.
In June 2012, OSHA cited the company for workplace-safety violations at a prison facility in Meridian, Miss. According to the agency, the company failed to provide adequate staffing of correctional officers; to fix malfunctioning cell-door locks; and to provide required training and personal protectiveequipment to protect employees from inmates’ violent behavior, including stabbings, bites and other injuries.
Under the three-year agreement, the willful citation has been reclassified as a serious violation and the company will pay a $13,600 fine. Additionally, the GEO Group must hire a third-party consultant to develop and maintain a workplace-violence-prevention program and conduct onsite workplace-violence safety audits at each of the 42 U.S. correctional and adult detention facilities that it manages. The company will also need to create a corporate-level workplace-violence coordinator position and form a workplace-safety committee at each of these facilities. In unionized facilities covered under the agreement, the committees will include representatives from labor and management.
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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