As previewed in today's Times Union, Assembly Member Rory Lancman (D-Queens), Chair of the Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, released a report today revealing a 42% increase in assaults on staff at the state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), which runs the state’s forty-seven juvenile justice facilities, based on Workers’ Compensation claims filed between 2007 and 2009.
The report further found that OCFS delayed implementing a workplace violence prevention program mandated by New York State law; that “facility specific” risk assessment and staff safety training also required by law has yet to be completed; that support programs for assaulted employees are lacking at OCFS facilities; and that one-third of juveniles initially placed at less secure, community-based non-profit facilities end up being relocated to more secure facilities.
Based on these findings, the report makes the following recommendations:
1. OCFS must immediately complete “facility specific” workplace violence risk assessments, and provide safety training at each facility based on the results of such assessments;
2. Existing management-employee workplace safety committees at each OCFS facility should better integrate workplace violence prevention into their agendas;
3. OCFS should develop support programs for employees who become victims of workplace violence;
4. The courts and OCFS need to make better assessments of juvenile delinquents in determining which level of secured facility they should be placed in.
“If OCFS is truly committed to create a functioning, safe and rehabilitating environment for residents, then administrators should take the recommendations of this report seriously and make a sustained commitment to improving the safety of its employees," said Assemblyman Lancman.