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.

Black Friday Strikes Mean Hope for Wal-Mart Worker Safety

November 23, 2012 at 10:47 am • Posted in Safety at the Workplace, Safety Topics for WorkNo comments yet

As people brave the streets in search of slightly discounted products to indebt themselves over this Black Friday, it is interesting to note that this year’s Black Friday actually marks a potential improvement in worker safety and health for the associates of Wal-Mart Stores.

Wal-Mart associates have historically been the worst-treated retail associates and have progressively been rewarded with lower pay, worse hours, schedule roulette, shrinking benefits, and shoddy and insufficient safety measures and equipment whenever possible. Understaffing is rampant, management is trained to suppress unionization whenever possible, profit margins are usually in the 30 to 40% range on everything but food, and profits are directed towards foreign shareholders instead of the American work force.

This year, however, Wal-Mart associates have been making themselves known. Despite active retaliation, they have been going on strike, walking off their jobs, and finally beginning to air their concerns regarding their below-average salaries and benefits, poor scheduling, lack of proper arc flash safety equipment when operating electrical equipment for lockout/tagout purposes, lack of proper high-visibility safety vests when working in parking lots, lack of proper leather palm work gloves for unloading trucks, and other grievances regarding unfair and abusive treatment at the hands of their corporate overlords.

Wal-Mart has attempted to stop these protests at the hands of their employees through legal injunctions and threats during daily meetings, while simultaneously claiming during press releases that there are so few employees interested in these protests that they will have no effect, and attempting to use security forces and law enforcement to intimidate anyone who dares even speak up at a meeting, let alone looks as if they may be considering joining a walk-out or may be engaged in a protest. It will be interesting to see whether these strikes finally lead to worker safety improvements at Wal-Mart, or even to a Wal-Mart that is fully staffed, well-run, and safe and pleasant to work and shop at. Perhaps next Black Friday won’t start on Thanksgiving, and the associates will mean it when they say, “Welcome to Wal-Mart!”

OSHA Cites Correctional Facility for Unsafe Work Conditions

OSHA has cited The GEO Group Inc. with six safety and health violations within its Meridian, Mississippi correctional facility, which houses 1,318 inmates in low, medium, and high security environments. Items that were included in the list of citations included failure to maintain training and staffing of correctional officers, failure to fix malfunctioning door locks and door sensors, failure to perform medical evaluations and fit testing for those required to wear full face respirators,
failure to properly store full face respirators to prevent damage from chemical agents or dust; failure to maintain exposure control plans and incident evaluation plans for employees exposed to bloodborne pathogens; failure to ensure personal protective equipment such as exam gloves and gowns were used to reduce employee exposure to bloodborne pathogens; failure to conduct hazard assessments for required personal protective equipment; and failure to maintain a written energy control procedure for workers exposed to electrical shock hazards.

The citations and notifications for penalty are available on OSHA’s website:

Inspection 315306803

Inspection 315306357

American Work Safety encourages employers whose employees regularly incur risk of bloodborne pathogen exposure – particularly in the medical, correctional, and law enforcement industries – to learn from this example and conduct a review of their current policies and procedures to ensure that they are in line with OSHA standards. OSHA compliance doesn’t just prevent hefty fines; it also saves lives and prevents costly injuries on the job. Contact one of our friendly salespeople today for all of your personal protective equipment needs.

Wichita Area Builders Association Claims OSHA is Killing the Construction Industry

February 10, 2012 at 8:16 am • Posted in OSHA Safety Topics, Safety at the Workplace, Safety Topics for Work1 Comment

The Wichita Area Builders Association isn’t too happy with OSHA regulations and fines. To be more specific, the increased enforcement of regulations in the construction industry has meant higher fines that they claim are ruining smaller businesses. This has particularly affected roofing contractors, where violations in fall protection are easily visible without formal inspections required, and owners of small businesses claim that they are being unfairly targeted.

Read the full story here, courtesy of the Wichita Eagle.

While people have been accusing OSHA of becoming more strict, the fact remains that little has actually changed; in many cases, OSHA is merely taking a more active stance on enforcing rules that have been in place since 1994. In contrast, OSHA has also been offering on-site consultations and training sessions to ensure these problems don’t occur in the first place, and can be corrected before they ever become an issue. We believe that proper training and equipment can save lives and protect profits, whereas skimping on either can be costly to workers and employers alike. With this in mind, don’t skimp on your fall protection and personal protective equipment budget this season if you’re in the construction industry; OSHA will most certainly be watching.

California OSHA Reminds Employers To Post Summary of Workplace Illnesses and Injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Department of Industrial Relations in California would like to remind all employers that Form 300A, which documents the summary of all work-related injuries and illnesses occurring during the previous year, must be posted for employee review from February 1st through April 30th.

The form includes information on workplace injuries, total number of days injured or sick employees spent away from work, total number of individual cases that caused lost time, and the specific types of injury or illness suffered.

The form is intended to provide accurate reporting of injuries and illnesses in a readily reviewable format so that present and former employees can better understand job hazards, and so that employers can determine what additional health and safety measures are needed in order to improve worker safety in future years.

We feel that it is important to have this information available for evaluation so that employers and employees can determine subtle causes of injury and illness that may not be readily apparent, and provide and utilize appropriate personal protective equipment such as respiratory protection or earplugs to improve future worker safety.

(Information provided by the Wall Street Journal MarketWatch and PR Newswire.)