According to a new report, dozens of defense contractors cited for serious safety violations that endangered workers are still being given lucrative contracts from the federal government. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed 192 defense contractors and found 52 had been cited for serious health or safety violations from 2013 through 2017. Workers suffered chemical burns, amputations, and even death as a result of these safety violations.
The report notes one case involving a hydrogen blast that left one worker pinned under a 20,000-pound lid, caused second-degree burns to another worker, and killed a third. Another case cited in the report says that a worker fell 98 feet from an elevator and died, while a third example describes two workers who died underwater after a vessel became unmoored in high winds and struck a pier.
In a statement, Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “The Defense Department’s contract workforce contributes every day to our national defense and should never be at risk of exposure to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. The GAO’s report confirms the Pentagon needs to crack down on its contractors who are breaking the law.”
Senator Warren is actually responsible for writing a major provision in the 2018 defense bill that required the GAO to review how the Pentagon tracks and responds to workplace safety violations among shipbuilders and other defense contractors.
After the investigation from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found that major private shipbuilders for the Navy and Coast Guard had received more than $100 billion in public money, despite evidence of serious safety lapses that resulted in worker injuries and death, Senator Warren proposed the measure as a response.
Recommendations the GAO have given to the Pentagon include advising agency contracting officials to look up health and safety violations on OSHA’s website when evaluating prospective contractors. The GAO also recommends agencies consider rating all contractors on safety.
Have you been seriously injured due to unsafe work conditions? Call (210) 807-3178 to schedule your free case consultation to find out if you are eligible for financial compensation.