The Vermont Department of Children and Families has to pay a fine of nearly $15,000 for a serious workplace safety violation at its St. Albans district office.

Last October, the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected the DCF office on Federal Street. According to a VOSHA citation:

“…employees were exposed to the hazard of physical assaults by clients that could exhibit violent behavior during visitations within the employees’ office space, during client transports, and due to the lack of documented safety training.”

The citation spells out a series of remedies VOSHA has proposed for the DCF office area, for its transport vehicles and for the training that staff members receive. DCF must pay VOSHA a fine of $14,502 by May 5.

The Vermont State Employees Association is a labor union for state-level employees. Its president, Aimee Towne, is a DCF employee. She writes, in part:

“VSEA members working in DCF offices across Vermont have been voicing their concerns about their personal safety and health—and their colleagues’ safety—for years now… We all deserve to feel safe while at work.”

DCF is part of the Vermont Agency of Human Services. When asked for comment, spokesperson Macie Rebel-Kidwell wrote in an email:

“DCF and AHS take staff safety very seriously. We have been working with VSEA throughout the pandemic to address staff safety and other issues and will continue to do so.”