Posted by Marcia Dick July 28, 2011 05:00 PM
The US Occupational Health and Safety Administration today announced the $7,000 fine against the North Suffolk Mental Health Association. The nonprofit demonstrated “a serious violation of the agency’s ‘general duty clause’ for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause serious injury or death,” the agency said in a statement.
Stephanie Moulton, 25, of Peabody, was alone in the group home on Jan. 20 with resident Deshawn James Chappell, 27, who allegedly killed her inside the facility and dumped her body in Lynn. Chappell has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial.
OSHA today issued several recommendations for North Suffolk to improve workplace safety, including establishing a system to identify potentially violent clients, and installing panic buttons, walkie-talkies, and other devices to monitor employee safety.
“This citation points to the clear and pressing need for this employer, and other employers in this industry, to develop a comprehensive and effective program to proactively address workplace violence situations that imperil the safety and health of their workers,” said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA’s area director in Andover, in the statement. “Prevention, protection, awareness, training and communication are critical to protecting these workers against death or serious injuries.”
Moulton’s mother, Kimberly Flynn, 47, of Peabody, said in a statement released by Protect Mass Children, a Lynnfield-based advocacy group working to toughen penalties for violent offenders, that she agreed with the recommendations.
“My daughter should be alive today and would be if North Suffolk Mental Health Association had implemented proper safety measures,” Flynn said. “We need a system that works to protect the community and not the criminal. My daughter’s death was preventable and I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Moulton’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against North Suffolk that is pending in state court. An attorney for the nonprofit did not immediately return messages seeking comment this afternoon.