Safety Fraud Results in 6.5 Year Prison Sentence for Former Safety Manager

Walter Cardin was once a safety manager for the Shaw Group (formerly Stone and Webster Construction) while working at three Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear plants. His company collected safety bonuses worth over $2.5 million for his group’s low injury rates. He was sentenced last week to 78 months in prison for major fraud and his company was forced to pay back over $5 million after a six-year investigation revealed that Cardin had regularly provided false information about injuries by misreporting the number and severity of 80 incidents, including broken bones, torn ligaments, hernias, lacerations, and shoulder, back, and knee injuries. Aside from defrauding the government, Cardin’s actions also resulted in injured employees being denied or delayed medical treatment, reduced the safety of the work environment on job sites, and forcing employees to work through medical conditions that created risks of additional injuries. Cardin denied intentionally misclassifying injuries and knowing that safety bonuses were tied to his classifications of injuries, but emails sent by Cardin to this effect as well as paperwork in his desk were uncovered by investigators, proving his guilt.

Gunpowder Manufacturer Charged with Manslaughter, Negligent Homicide for Improper Gear

COLEBROOK, N.H. (AP) — The owner of a New Hampshire gunpowder company that was the site of a 2010 factory explosion that killed two men is scheduled for trial in May.

Craig Sanborn of Maidstone, Vt., was indicted last year on two counts of manslaughter and two counts of negligent homicide for negligently engaging in the manufacture, production, testing and storage of explosive material. The explosion at the Black Mag plant in Colebrook killed Donald Kendall and Jesse Kennett. The trial would be held at Coos Superior Court in Lancaster.

The Caledonian-Record reports thethe case also resulted in two lawsuits alleging wrongful death that were filed by the victims’ families. A civil trial is scheduled in federal court in Concord after the criminal trial is completed, federal court representatives said Monday. The lawsuits name other co-owners of the building that housed the Black Mag plant as defendants.

The explosion happened on the afternoon of May 14, 2010, at the site that manufactured a gunpowder substitute for muzzleloader rifles.

The New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s office said there were possible violations of state statute in the handling, manufacturing and storage of gunpowder at the plant, violations of general fire safety and indications the fatal blast might have happened during the manufacturing process.

In 2011, Black Mag entered into an agreement with the U.S. Labor Department that resolved more than 50 workplace safety and health violations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with penalties totaling $1.2 million. The agreement required Sanborn to surrender his explosives manufacturing license and permanently refrain from employing workers in explosives-related businesses. Sanborn had declined to comment about the agreement.

OSHA said earlier the company failed to train the workers and chose not to use or install remote starters, isolated operating stations or appropriate shields and barriers. Employees also were not given proper protective gear such as fire resistant clothing and face shields.

Parkway Iron and Metal Charged $77,770 For Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment

After receiving a complaint alleging hazards in the workplace, OSHA opened an inspection and found sixteen serious violations and three repeat violations at Parkway Iron and Metal in Clifton, New Jersey. Repeat violations include Parkway’s failure to provide proper personal protective equipment, conduct hazard assessments, and provide proper hazard communication training.

The list of serious violations reads like a list of preparations for a factory to be used in a movie showdown, but this is no joke: lack of a hearing conservation program, inadequate personal protective equipment, inoperable alarms on a front-end loader, floor holes, missing platform handrails, blocked fire exits, removed valves on compressed gas cylinders, improper storage of gas cylinders, lack of valve caps on compressed gas cylinders, lack of lockout/tagout procedures to control machine energy sources, powered industrial trucks left unatended, and various electrical hazards.

OSHA classifies serious violations as violations in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known about, and repeat violations are violations for which the employer has previously been cited within the past five years.

Parkway Metal and Iron is a scrap metal recycling facility, and as such can be a very hazardous working environment if appropriate personal protective equipment is not worn and proper safety procedures are not followed. With this sort of egregrious negligence, it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes.

(Source: OSHA Regional News Release 12-054)

Employers Pay Heavy Price for Workplace Injuries

Liberty Mutual Insurance company report showed that the most disabling injuries (those involving six or more days away from work) cost American employers more than $53 billion a year – over $1 billion a week – in workers’ compensation costs alone.

That statistic was quoted by Assistant Secretary of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Dr. David Michaels in testimony before Congress on April 14, 2011. He cited the data in support of his administration’s 40 year history of protecting workers from injury on the job. Read the rest of this entry »