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BARABOO, Wi. The U.S.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) completed its investigation
into a mental health care facility in Baraboo.
Director of Public
Affairs for our U.S. Department of Labor region Scott Allen released a letter
the agency sent to Dungarvin last week, saying the company has "not developed
or implemented all feasible measure to protect workers from assaults at your
However, OSHA did not
issue any citations as a result of its investigation.
"This company has
been very proactive and taken a number of measures, over 35 measures to try and
ensure that their workers are safe," Allen said in a phone interview. "So we're confident that they're on the right
track, and we will continue to monitor them, and determine if there's a need to
go back in there for further investigation."
The letter stated
OSHA may return to the house in about a year to reexamine the conditions there.
OSHA began its
investigation six months ago, as workers reported being injured on the job to
Jeremy Felix moved
into 616 Sauk Avenue after Care Wisconsin contracted his care to
Dungarvin. The 26-year old has a history
of mental illness and serious violence. People
living around Felix in the surrounding residential area expressed concern over
the placement and their lack of input in the decision.
Baraboo Police say
calls about the residence and Felix have significantly declined since last
summer, but officers couldn't know whether or not that was a product of fewer
incidents, fewer people calling, or another factor.
In the letter to
Dungarvin, dated January 24th, OSHA's area director said eight
employees sought medical attention after physically restraining a client or
attempting to do so.
did reveal that some employees were exposed to hazardous conditions associated
with workplace violence," Allen said.
Dungarvin personnel were proactive in their efforts to improve safety
conditions for employees, but could not specify how many measures were in place
before the investigation, how many were implemented during the investigation,
and how many happened as a result.
"The number one concern
of ours is to ensure the safety of the workers in the workplace, so if they can
correct it quickly and efficiently, then we're pleased with that," Allen said.
The letter to
Dungarvin also recommended a few voluntary steps the company is encouraged to
make. Those included getting a third party
opinion on its conflict resolution policies, evaluating self-defense training
for employees, and conducting annual hazard assessments to make sure items in
the house cant be used as weapons.
"We're confident that
they're moving in the right direction to ensure that its a safe environment
for employees in the future," Allen said.
Representative Fred Clark has watched this situation play out in his district,
and said OSHAs findings validate neighbors concerns.
"If that's not a wake up
call, I don't know what is,"Clark said about the investigation.
Clark said the state
should step in and take responsibility for making sure OSHAs recommendations
"We're the customer
here. I think we all need to remember
that state of Wisconsin is essentially purchasing these services to care for
these individuals," Clark said. "And I
think we have the responsibility to ensure there's a safe work environment
Clark said he plans
to sit down with the Department of Health Services (DHS) in the near future to
discuss an action plan for a safe and successful placement for Felix and
The DHS already
cleared Dungarvin of any wrongdoing after its investigation determined the
Baraboo facility was up to state standards.
Senator Jon Erpenbach, who initially asked Dungarvin was
placed in the Baraboo neighborhood, said in a statement, “I am pleased OSHA has
validated employee safety concerns and made strong recommendations for changes
that Dungarvin can implement to improve workplace safety at their Baraboo
facility. I am optimistic that improvements for employee safety will also help
improve community safety. I appreciated the continued work of OSHA.”
Multiple calls to
Dungarvins state director Julie Josephitis went unreturned Wednesday.
Care Wisconsin, the
organization that contracted Dungarvin for Felix's care, had no comment on OSHA's
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