Southern California — this just in
March 2, 2012 | 4:50 pm

California workplace safety officials have issued nearly $100,000 in fines against San Bernardino’s Patton State Hospital and the Central Coast’s Atascadero State Hospital, alleging in part that the state psychiatric facilities have failed to protect staff from patient assaults and have deficient employee alarm systems.

The Cal/OSHA citations issued Thursday are similar to those levied last spring against Napa State Hospital and Norwalk’s Metropolitan State Hospital, and appealed by the California Department of Mental Health.

Department Chief Deputy Director Kathryn Gaither said in a statement Friday that state officials are “working closely” with Cal/OSHA and “remain committed to upgrading safety for a secure working environment” through “new policies and investments.” She did not address whether the department would appeal the latest citations.

Patton was fined $57,400 and Atascadero $38,555. The most serious citations were for inadequate injury and illness prevention plans that contributed to an average of 20 patient-caused staff injuries a month at Patton from January 2006 to September 2011, and an average of eight a month at Atascadero between January 2007 and October 2011, according to the documents. Those include “severe head trauma, fractures, contusions, lacerations and bites.”

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