St. Peter Regional Treatment Center

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the Minnesota Security Hospital, citing unsafe working conditions. (Herald file photo)

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a citation related to working conditions at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, which has faced repeated problems over the years connected to employee and patient safety.

The state Department of Human Services confirmed that OSHA inspectors visited the site on Aug. 1. Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry wasn’t available for comment, but released a statement about OSHA’s findings.

“Everyone deserves to work in a safe environment. Over the past two years, Minnesota Security Hospital has made significant progress in employee safety by increasing the amount of staff and providing specialized training,” Barry said. “That work has resulted in a reduction in staff injuries, but the OSHA findings show we still have work to do. We are never going to stop our efforts to improve worker safety.”

The details of the OSHA citation won’t be made public until it is resolved with DHS, which has the right to contest the citation. A DHS spokesperson said officials haven’t yet decided whether to challenge the findings.

The Minnesota Security Hospital, which houses patients committed for being mentally ill or dangerous, has been wracked by findings of patient neglect and allegations of administrative chaos. A report released in May contained internal interviews with employees, who said they feared for their safety because of new policies on how to deal with patients.

The state Legislature allocated $56 million last session to redesign the facility to make it safer for staff and patients. The facility has operated on a conditional license from the Department of Human Services since 2011.

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