Minn. Department of Human Services Fined $63,000 by OSHA

The OSHA decision comes after more than five months of investigation into hospital policies and procedures.

Minnesota’s Department of Human Services was fined by the state’s OSHA branch for inadequate hospital security measures at a psychiatric hospital on Dec. 9.

The fine is the result of a citation issued when OSHA found nine incidents between May and July this year that put employees of Minnesota Security Hospital at risk of injury or death, according to startribune.com.

The OSHA investigation began in July after a worker at the St. Peter psychiatric hospital was assaulted. That incident was just one of 111 work-related injuries staff members have suffered this year, which represents a dramatic increase from previous years.

State officials and hospital employees blame the increase in hospital violence on a new law that requires state psychiatric hospitals to admit county jail inmates within 48 hours after they have been committed by a judge for mental illness, which has forced the hospital to accept more violent patients. Currently the hospital holds more than 200 of the state’s most violent and mentally ill patients.

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To combat the rising rate of violence, the hospital has incorporated a new communication system between staff members and taken a number of other approaches to improve hospital security, including adding security cameras and protective equipment for staff, hiring more security counselors and increasing staff training in de-escalation.

“Violence is not under control, but we’ve still come a long way from where we were a year ago,” Hospital Security Counselor Timothy Headlee said.

The state has 20 days to consent to the OSHA citation or oppose it.

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