Corrections fined for violating tuberculosis outbreak rules

September 13, 2022 GMT

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — The Washington state Department of Corrections was fined more than $84,000 for reportedly failing to follow safety rules meant to stop the spread of disease at its Aberdeen prison.

The state Department of Labor and Industries said Friday it cited and fined the agency, The Olympian reported.

The determination came after L&I inspectors responded to complaints related to an April tuberculosis outbreak. That month, the state Department of Health recorded the largest outbreak of the bacterial disease in 20 years, including cases at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

Stafford Creek workers allegedly did not receive initial or annual fit testing for N-95 respirators, according to L&I. Without the tests, the respirators may not have fit correctly, inhibiting the ability to protect from infection.

The disease is caused by a bacterium that often infects the lungs and is highly transmissible when those sickened by it cough or sneeze.

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In a statement, the agency said it is “very concerned” with the citations and plans to work with L&I to address the violations.

Corrections said in a statement that it faced an unprecedented situation because of the tuberculosis outbreak and a surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the omicron variant. Corrections identified 23 people in custody with active tuberculosis in 2022 and two cases in people who were diagnosed after being released.

It wasn’t immediately known if Corrections will appeal the L&I citation. The fine would go into a workers’ compensation fund to help injured workers and families of workers who die.