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OSHA: GEO required to pay fine, safeguard workers

The GEO Group, which operates 42 prisons and detention facilities in the United States, has entered into a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor. The settlement requires GEO to instate measures that better protect employees from routine workplace violence in each of its facilities ("Florida-Based Employer Must Safeguard Workers," 3/26/14). 

In June 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited GEO for workplace hazards at a facility in Meridian, Miss. These violations include the company's failure to fix faulty cell door locks; to provide training and equipment to protect employees in violent situations; and failure to provide adequate staffing.

The three-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, the citation has been upgraded to a serious violation, which will require GEO to pay a $13,600 fine. GEO will also be required to hire a third-party consultant who will manage a violence prevention program and conduct safety audits at each of the company's 42 facilities. GEO is also required to employ a corporate-level violence coordinator at each facility. 

Teresa Harrison, acting regional administrator for OSHA in Atlanta, thinks this new measure will be effective: 

“This corporate-wide settlement agreement will have a far-reaching effect and impact on correctional officers and other staff nationwide...This agreement is the first of its kind in the corrections industry that addresses the hazards associated with workplace violence.” 

 

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