Safety Failure Leads to Repeat Violation at Florida Mental Health Facilities

Melbourne, Florida – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken action against Circles of Care Inc., a company operating multiple psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, for the third time in five years. This comes after workers were either killed or seriously injured in violent patient attacks. OSHA has cited the company for a “repeat” violation along with an “other-than-serious” violation, pointing out various safety and health failures and issuing proposed penalties totaling $101,397.

According to OSHA, Circles of Care was found to have failed in providing adequate controls to prevent the escalation of aggression towards professional staff by patients. OSHA’s Orlando Area Office Director, Erin Sanchez, expressed dismay at Circles of Care’s failure to protect its employees from the known danger of patient assaults.

The recent citation and proposed fines are a result of an inspection conducted in November 2023, prompted by a worker’s hospitalization. The employee suffered injuries to the head, face, hands, and arms when a patient used a metal hole punch to attack them at a nurse’s workstation. OSHA also noted that two other incidents at the Melbourne facility in 2020, including a fatal shooting of a counselor by a former patient and an alleged assault, were part of their investigation into Circles of Care.

Circles of Care, which operates ten behavioral health and substance abuse facilities and employs around 480 individuals in Florida, now has 15 business days to contest the citation and proposed penalties. This repeated pattern of safety violations in healthcare facilities raises concerns about the risks faced by healthcare workers and the need for comprehensive safety measures to protect them from harm. OSHA’s actions serve as a reminder of the crucial importance of ensuring workplace safety and preventing violent incidents in healthcare settings.