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Psychiatric hospital fined for lack of worker protections

A recent citation from OSHA targeted the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter for a $4,900 fine. The agency determined that the state psychiatric hospital's employees were working in an environment that lacked sufficient violence prevention measures to keep the employees safe as they worked with dangerous patients.

Individuals connected to the hospital's security staff attributed a spike in recent staff injuries to multiple factors. These factors include a longstanding attitude of inevitable injury among hospital leaders, societal pressure to lighten controlling measures on dangerous patients without sufficient measures to compensate for higher risks and changed expectations toward security procedures that demand more direct patient contact. A longtime security staff member suggested that certain particularly dangerous patients were responsible for a majority of the injuries inflicted. He proposed a heightened focus to maintain safety around such high-risk individuals as well as a trained incident response team as potential factors to improve the current situation.

Even with strong protective measures in place, a volatile patient at a state mental hospital might be capable of overpowering an employee and causing injuries with long-term consequences. If, for instance, a patient tackles an orderly to the ground, that employee might suffer a spinal fracture and a lengthy recovery process without work. After the injury heals, chronic back pain could persist with the potential to severely limit that worker's ability to perform a caretaker's physical duties.

State law promises wage and medical coverage for hurt state workers, but departmental hassles might make the process of obtaining expected coverage frustrating in some cases. An attorney with experience in state workers' compensation claims might analyze a situation in order to help an injured worker submit accurate paperwork and get through slow administrative processes more quickly.

Source: Mankato Free Press, "Security hospital fined over workplace safety", Dan Linehan, August 15, 2014

Source: Mankato Free Press, "Security hospital fined over workplace safety", Dan Linehan, August 15, 2014

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