OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
Shannon Barnett, who owns the website CareersIn Criminal Justice, sent us this very useful information, which is especially helpful to those who desire to work in law enforcement, or already do. See how to contact Shannon at the end of this article. We know you will enjoy reading this:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers have one of the highest rates of non-fatal on-the-job injuries. With this in mind, it is important for anyone who works as a correctional officer (or who is thinking of starting a career as a correctional officer) to always be thinking of ways to stay safe in all types of situations.
Depending on the situation, correctional officers often have little time to think before reacting. This is especially true when fights break out between inmates, or when one or many inmates attack an officer. For this reason, it is always necesssary to know your prison’s plan of action for all high-risk situations.
Listed below are ten safety tips that all correctional officers should know and keep in mind while on the job:
- Protect your weapons: Always keep your means of defense sheathed and placed on your body in an area where it cannot be easily seized.
- Strategically place yourself: Within your assigned area, find a spot where you can monitor all activities and keep a close eye on all inmates.
- If necessary, ask for help: Never pretend to be the tough guy. If you have been ordered to search a cell or perform any task that puts you in direct contact with an inmate, and you don’t feel comfortable or safe doing it alone, ask for backup assistance.
- Wear protective clothing: In addition to your uniform, put on protective gear (like a bulletproof vest) to guard yourself against possibly fatal attacks.
- Protect yourself against bloodborne pathogens: Always keep a pair of latex gloves in your pocket and make sure all necessary devices to handle and remove bloodborne pathogens are strategically placed throughout the prison.
- Never create a relationship with an inmate: Never have a friendly, pass-the-time- away conversation with another inmate. This could be a ploy to distract you from something that should be stopped or could lead to other inmates believing that you take part in favoritism. Both of these things compromise safety.
- Only clock out once your replacement has settled in: If you clock out, or even mentally “tune out” of your position, before your replacement has settled in, prison security could be breached and correctional officer safety could be compromised.
- Report any unsafe practices by other correctional officers: If you witness a fellow officer taking part in anything that could potentially hurt prison safety, report it to your correctional sergeant immediately.
- Get enough rest before work: Working as a correctional officer is demanding and stressful. In order to keep yourself and others protected, you must remain alert at all times. If you are not getting adequate sleep between shifts, you are increasing your risk of workplace injury and putting prison safety at risk.
- Always comfort discomfort: Whether it is the way an inmate looks at your or additional training for the use of a weapon, if there is something about your job that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk about it with your correctional sergeant. Never ignore something that could be a potential for harm.
Thanks, Shannon, for this advice that should be taken very seriously by those who perform this kind of work; or considering starting this vocation. Their safety is of the utmost importance. Shannon Barnett owns the site http://careersincriminaljustice.net and in her spare time, she enjoys writing articles for various other sites on many topics of interest.