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Missouri state mental facility is an unsafe workplace

The Briggs Forensic Center in Fulton is the oldest public hospital for the mentally ill west of the Mississippi River. It is also in such a severe state of disrepair that it may be a violation of the patients' and workers' rights to be inside the structures. The hospital, collectively referred to as Fulton State Hospital, occupies a 95-acre tract of land, which also has other deteriorated structures that are held together with a patchwork of repairs.

The buildings are old and, in many cases, have leaky roofs. Hallways in the buildings are long and poorly illuminated and require a great deal of power to operate. There is only one kitchen and it has doors falling off their hinges and constant equipment failures. There are blind corners that create safety issues and workers are often many yards away from each other, which can be a dangerous in a mental health facility. This is especially true in Briggs Forensic Center that houses the most dangerous mental patients, most of which have committed crimes.

The fact that the buildings need extensive repairs or perhaps total replacement is an issue that gets bipartisan support in the Missouri legislature. The problem now is how to find the $211 million it is estimated to cost to rebuild. In the meantime, there have been $4 million in worker's compensation claims in the fiscal year of 2009. That was about half of what the state paid out in total that year for injury claims.

It may be wise to allow an employment law attorney to review the case if an employee feels that workplace hazards are the reason behind of his or her injury. An attorney may be able to file a worker's compensation claim that will help with lost wages and ongoing medical expenses.

Source: STL Today, "Need is certain but funding unclear at Missouri's psychiatric hospital", Elizabeth Crisp, October 21, 2013

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