Health and Safety Risk Factors for Corrections Facilities Staff

Working in corrections facilities is a demanding job, and staff members face unique health and safety risks. Health risks include exposure to infectious diseases and asbestos. Mental health is also affected, with high rates of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. Safety risks involve violence and the use of force from inmates, along with poor working conditions. Mitigating these risks is vital. Strategies include implementing safety policies, providing training and education, conducting hazard assessments, enhancing infection control measures, and offering mental health support. Prioritizing staff health and safety is essential in corrections facilities, leading to a safer, healthier work environment for staff members and inmates.
corrections facility

Working in a corrections facility is a challenging and demanding job that involves managing individuals who are incarcerated or detained. Corrections facilities staff members face unique occupational health risks due to the nature of their work. This can have significant physical and mental health effects. In addition to health risks, corrections facilities staff members also face safety risks. Risks include assaults and violence from inmates, use of force, and inadequate training and equipment. Factors such as overcrowding and understaffing can exacerbate these risks and make it difficult to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. In this article, we will explore the health and safety risk factors faced by corrections facilities staff members, the factors that contribute to these risks, and strategies for mitigating them. We will also discuss the importance of prioritizing staff health and safety in corrections facilities to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.

Health Risks in Corrections Facilities

Correctional officers face a variety of health risks due to the nature of their work. These risks can have significant physical and mental health effects on officers and can impact their overall quality of life.

Physical Health

One of the most prominent health risks for correctional officers is exposure to communicable diseases. One study revealed that over 20% of inmates report carrying an infectious disease. Overcrowding in prisons increases the rate of dissemination. Inmates are more likely to carry infectious agents such as tuberculosis and hepatitis. This puts officers at a higher risk of contracting these diseases. Additionally, asbestos is still common in many old correctional facilities. Asbestos exposure can lead to respiratory illnesses, skin rashes, and other health problems.

Mental Health

The mental wear and tear that corrections work causes can be devastating. The job involves managing individuals who are incarcerated or detained, which can be a highly volatile and unpredictable environment. Due to this volatility, correctional officers experience high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Another study revealed that corrections officers experience PTSD at a rate twice as high as military veterans

Safety Risks in Corrections Facilities

Correctional officers also face a variety of safety risks while on the job. Working in a high-security environment, officers must remain vigilant at all times to prevent and respond to violent incidents.

Violence

One of the primary safety risks for correctional officers is violence from inmates. Officers must manage individuals who are incarcerated or detained, which can be a highly volatile and unpredictable environment. Inmates may become aggressive, confrontational, or violent towards officers, which can lead to physical injuries, including cuts, bruises, fractures, and even death. Officers are injured by work-related violence and assaults at a rate of 254 per 10,000 officers.

Force

Another safety risk for correctional officers is the use of force. Officers must use physical force to manage individuals who are uncooperative or aggressive. This use of force, though necessary in some cases, can lead to more officer injuries. 

Poor Conditions

In addition to violence and force, correctional officers may face risks in their work environment. Factors such as inadequate lighting, faulty equipment, and poor ergonomic design can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, such as strains and sprains. OSHA has specific regulations for correctional facilities, along with requirements for all businesses. 

Mitigation Strategies for Health and Safety Risks

Several mitigation strategies can help address the health and safety risks faced by correctional facilities staff. Here are a few examples of strategies to try:

Implementing effective safety policies and procedures

Correctional facilities can develop policies and procedures that clearly outline safety protocols, emergency response plans, and the proper use of equipment and tools, as well as equipment maintenance. By ensuring that staff members are trained on these policies and procedures, correctional facilities can reduce the risk of preventable injuries.

Providing regular training and education

Providing regular training and education to staff members can help them to understand better the risks associated with their work, such as inmate violence, and to develop the skills necessary to manage those risks effectively. This can include training on topics such as crisis management, communication, conflict resolution, and the use of force.

Conducting hazard assessments

Conducting regular hazard assessments can help identify potential safety risks in the workplace and develop strategies to mitigate those risks. Hazard assessments should include an evaluation of the physical environment, equipment, and work practices. These assessments should be conducted regularly to make sure that the workplace is safe for employees and inmates.

Implementing effective infection control measures

To reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission, correctional facilities should implement effective infection control measures such as hand hygiene, proper use of PPE, and isolation protocols for infected individuals.

Providing mental health support

The high-stress nature of work in a correctional facility can lead to mental health issues for staff members. Correctional facilities should provide access to mental health support and counseling services to help staff members cope with the emotional and psychological demands of their work.

By implementing these mitigation strategies, correctional facilities can create a safe and healthy work environment for staff members and reduce the risk of injuries, illnesses, and other health and safety risks.

It is clear that the health and safety risks faced by corrections facilities staff members are significant and require urgent attention. To effectively mitigate these risks, corrections facilities need to prioritize staff health and safety and work with occupational health experts to implement comprehensive occupational health and safety programs.

We Can Help!

 At Work Health Solutions, we have extensive experience in addressing the unique health and safety concerns of staff members in corrections facilities. Our team of occupational health experts can provide customized solutions that address the specific risks faced by your staff members, including regular medical exams, mental health support, and hazard assessments. We can also help you implement effective policies and procedures and provide training and equipment to protect against workplace hazards. Together, we can create a safe and healthy work environment for corrections facilities staff members. Contact Work Health Solutions today to learn more about how we can help you prioritize staff health and safety in your corrections facility.

Work Health Solutions

Work Health Solutions

About Us

Work Health Solutions is dedicated to preserving a safe work environment and improving existing programs and care for local, regional and national organizations.

Share This Post

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

Speak with an Occupational Health Specialist

If you have questions about Work Health Solution's occupational health services or if you need to purchase bulk medical supplies, such as COVID-19 testing kits, please contact us.

Get in Touch

Dr. Michael Tenison

A series of notable accomplishments distinguish Dr. Michael Tenison’s career in medical operations and healthcare management:

  • Successfully led medical operations at a national healthcare provider, focusing on optimizing healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.
  • Oversaw the regional medical practices in key markets like Oregon and Northern California, ensuring consistent, quality medical care and service delivery.
  • Demonstrated exceptional leadership in building and mentoring a large medical provider team, enhancing team performance and patient care standards.
  • Implemented strategic company policies and protocols, significantly improving center efficiency, clinical quality, and patient experiences.
  • Played a pivotal role in financial planning and identifying growth opportunities for healthcare services, contributing to the organization’s overall success.
  • Served as a primary point of contact for regional employer clients and insurance companies, fostering strong relationships and effective communication.
  • Maintained high medical care and case management standards through diligent supervision, chart audits, and performance metric analysis.

Dr. Matt Feeley

Dr. Matt Feeley is a renowned figure in military aviation medicine, with a robust background in occupational and environmental medicine from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

  • Former Naval Flight Surgeon, exemplifying his expertise in aerospace medicine and commitment to military health.
  • Served with distinction at NSA Bahrain and HSM-37, earning the COMPACFLT Flight Surgeon of the Year award for exceptional medical service.
  • Supported U.S. Marines VMFA-323 aboard the USS Nimitz, MACG-38, and VMU-3, demonstrating versatility and leadership in diverse medical environments.
  • Broad interests and significant contributions in global health, corporate medicine, and aerospace medicine, highlighting his multidisciplinary approach.
  • Proven track record as a dynamic leader, well-equipped to face the challenges in a fractional medical directorship role with innovative solutions.

Dr. Glen Cheng

A physician-attorney with a dedication to healthcare innovation, informatics, and digital health.

  • Currently spearheads employee health protection and promotion within the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
  • Trained in residency at Harvard, achieving board certification as a physician; also a licensed patent attorney with experience as FDA regulatory counsel.
  • Co-founded Acceleromics, a consulting firm providing clinical and regulatory guidance to digital health startups.

Erin Davis

 Chief Clinical Officer at Work Health Solutions, certified in Adult-Gerontology (AGNP-C) and Athletic Training (ATC).

  • Oversees clinical operations and ensures high clinical standards across the company’s national field staff.
  • Former Manager of Clinic Operations and Occupational Health Nurse Practitioner at Stanford University Occupational Health Center (SUOHC).
  • Specialized in treating occupational injuries and illnesses, and provided medical surveillance and travel medicine consults at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.
  • Dedicated to sports and occupational injury treatment and prevention.
  • Assistant Clinical Faculty at UCSF, mentoring students in clinical rotations within the Adult Gerontology and Occupational and Environmental Health Program.
  • Holds leadership roles as Treasurer and President Elect of the California El Camino Real Association of Occupational Health Nurses (CECRAOHN), affiliated with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).

Dr. Robert Goldsmith

Expert in benefits design and onsite innovation with specialization in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Previous role as Executive Director for Employee Health at Novartis Services, Inc., leading health services and clinical support.
  • Instrumental in creating an integrated healthcare system at Novartis.
  • Former private practice in internal medicine in Stamford, Connecticut, and Medical Director consultant for GTE Corporation.
  • Transitioned to GE as a Global Medical Director in 2000.
  • Holds a medical degree from Albert Einstein College, an MPH from the University of Connecticut, and completed training at Greenwich Hospital and Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
  • Assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Vagelos School of Medicine, Columbia University.
  • Serves as a team physician for high school athletes in Stamford.
  • Published works on occupational health risks, primary prevention, and exercise-induced asthma.