Inspectors found dangerous working conditions at the Miami low security federal correctional institution.

Inspectors found dangerous working conditions at the Miami low security federal correctional institution. BOP photo

OSHA Cites Bureau of Prisons Facility for Unsafe Working Conditions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration found “serious” problems at a Florida prison, prompting the first ever citation for BOP.

For the first time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in late November issued a citation to a Bureau of Prisons facility for unsafe working conditions. The Miami low-security federal correctional institution must take steps to address OSHA’s recommendations by Jan. 15. 

Government Executive obtained a copy of the notice from a correctional officer in Florida. OSHA issued the citation on Nov. 26, 2019, following an August 2, 2018, inspection where inspectors found  “serious” violations of the federal regulation that requires agencies to foster a workplace free from conditions that could cause death or physical harm. A Labor Department spokesperson told Government Executive it is the first time OSHA has cited the Bureau of Prisons for such violations.

In the complaint, OSHA cited two examples of inmate violence at the institution. In May 2018, “an unescorted inmate with a history of exhibiting sexually aggressive disruptive behavior was in the lobby of the [Health Services Unit] for no reason when he sexually assaulted a pharmacist by grabbing her buttocks.” Then in July, “an argumentative prison inmate in the Special Housing Unit tried to assault a correctional officer through the shower cell where the door slot remained open.” 

Nancy Ayers, bureau of prisons spokesperson, told Government Executive “the bureau continuously reviews and takes steps to address and mitigate the risks associated with disruptive inmates and takes very seriously any and all assaults and physical attacks against any persons including BOP staff, contractors and volunteers.”

Joe Rojas, the southeast regional vice president at the Council of Prison Locals, said such incidents cited by OSHA are not unusual in the prison system. He said low staffing numbers at facilities nationwide are the worst he’s seen in over 24 years working in the prison system. In recent years, overwhelmed correctional officers at various locations have begun taking their concerns directly to OSHA “because this had to be addressed,” Rojas said. 

Under the law, OSHA may not fine another federal agency, but Rojas said the citation is “a big deal” because it “shows that what we’re saying is valid.”

“I’m glad to see that OSHA has stepped in,” said Brian Dawe, CEO of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, a former state correctional officer and co-founder of the Massachusetts Correctional Officers Federated Union. He said prison employees can experience “mental damage” from dangerous workplace conditions, which he said accounts for the high suicide rate among correctional officers. “I have heard a lot of people wanting to do this,” Dawe said of correctional officers turning to OSHA. “But I’ve never seen an actual complaint come forward ... This is the first time I’ve ever seen a complaint issued like this.”  

Among the “feasible and acceptable means of abatement” required by OSHA by Jan. 15 are:

  • Consider installing barriers in the hallways and video surveillance in common areas in the health services unit.
  • Create and implement a way to make sure only inmates who need medical services can enter the health services unit.
  • Re-evaluate the body alarm system and give employees “clear written procedures” on how to use it.
  • Revise procedures for inmate showers.
  • Update the BOP Workplace Violence Prevention, Staff Program statement to “specifically address inmate-on-staff violence, worksite hazard analysis, hazard prevention, reporting incidents of inmate-on-staff violence, and training” and do annual reviews of the program.
  • Make sure contract employees are trained to handle potentially violent situations.
  • Create a process to flag inmates who were transferred from higher security facilities, have a history of gang violence and/or have displayed aggressive behavior to staff.

Given the extent and specificity of OSHA’s recommendations, Dawe said, “I can only assume there’s a lot more to these stories than we’re seeing.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.