Corrections workers are responsible for enforcing facility rules and maintaining order. Their duties create an inherent risk for on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Research shows that corrections workers have high rates of injuries and illnesses. Illnesses stress, burnout, and mental health-related consequences.1
Who are corrections workers?
Corrections workers include correctional officers, chaplains, healthcare providers, teachers, vocational instructors, drug treatment specialists, food service, and maintenance personnel. Corrections workers maintain institution safety and security by enforcing rules and regulations, facility security, and accountability of incarcerated persons.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate for correctional officers and jailers was 392,600 in May 2021.2 This estimate does not include other corrections workers.
What job hazards do corrections workers face?
Corrections workers face many potential job hazards, including:
- Occupational/workplace violence (assaults)
- Strains, trips, falls, or other injuries when responding to emergencies
- Occupational needlestick or sharps injuries
- Motor vehicle-related injuries
- Exposure to illicit drugs
- Exposure to persons who are incarcerated or detained with infectious diseases (e.g., HIV, Hepatitis, TB)
How is NIOSH working to reduce and prevent corrections workers’ injuries and illnesses?
Several NIOSH programs conduct research to protect corrections workers from workplace injuries and illnesses. One of these programs is the Emergency Preparedness and Response Program. They work to improve the safety and health of public safety workers on the front line of emergency response. They also work with other NIOSH programs like Public Safety to conduct research to prevent infectious disease transmission and exposure to illicit drugs and PTSD, suicide, and depression.
- Provides insight into the effectiveness of current practices.
- Identifies the barriers and risks corrections workers still face.
- Informs the development and adoption of policies and interventions to better protect workers.
The Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program also works to protect corrections workers from work-related illnesses. These evaluations identify health hazards in the workplace and provide recommendations for reducing hazards.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MSRA) outbreaks have occurred at several correctional facilities. Learn how to protect correctional staff from MSRA.
NIOSH has conducted health hazard evaluations at correctional facilities for exposures to diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, MSRA), hazardous working conditions, and other health hazards. Find reports of interest and learn more about health hazard evaluations.
CDC Recommendations for Correctional and Detention Settings
This document summarizes current CDC guidelines and recommendations for testing, vaccination, and treatment of HIV, viral hepatitis, TB, and STIs for detained or incarcerated persons (as of December 2021).
Directory of Emergency Preparedness
This directory provides links to additional information on a range of emergency types as well as resources for emergency responders.
NIOSH Certified Equipment List
The official listing of all NIOSH-approved respirators.
NIOSH Science Blog
This link provides a collection of blogs related to corrections.
Stress at Work
This page provides resources to help minimize job stress and promote safe and healthier workplaces.
1National Institute of Justice . Correctional Officer Safety and Wellness – What We Learned from the Research Literature.
2BLS . Correctional officers and jailers. Occupational employment and wage statistics. Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics.