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GAO report calls for ‘enhanced information’ on DOD contractors’ worker safety records

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Washington — Nearly 4 out of 5 Department of Defense manufacturing or construction contractors inspected by OSHA or state agencies over a recent five-year period were cited for at least one worker safety or health violation, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Researchers used federal data to examine previous safety and health violations of 192 selected companies with DOD contracts in fiscal year 2017, as well as how DOD and its components addressed contractor workplace safety and health during the acquisition process.

Of the 192 companies, 106 had been inspected by OSHA or state agencies between FYs 2013 and 2017. The inspections resulted in 83 being cited for at least one violation (78.3 percent) and 52 cited for at least one serious violation (49 percent). Three were cited for at least one repeat violation.

GAO concluded that OSHA “doesn’t collect data that could be used to match federal contracts with violations, so it’s not always possible to know whether the violations occurred on defense contracts. Also, DOD doesn’t always require contractors to be rated on safety.”

GAO made three recommendations to increase the use and availability of information regarding defense contract worker safety:

To OSHA:

  • Explore the feasibility of requiring a corporate identification number in its inspection database and enabling its website to be searched by that number. This should include exploring which corporate ID number would be most appropriate to require, options for obtaining this number from employers, and options for entering this number in its database that would prevent or minimize delays in closing inspection records.

To the secretary of defense:

  • Provide information to contracting officials to advise them that the OSHA website is a resource for information about contractors’ workplace safety and health records.
  • Explore the feasibility of requiring a safety performance rating for contracts in industries that have relatively high rates of workplace injuries, such as manufacturing, construction, and ship building and repairing.
 

GAO analyzed the issues related to DOD contractors’ safety and health records based on a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018 that called for the review, which included interviews with OSHA, DOD and select military departments.

DOD was the largest federal contracting agency in FY 2017, with about $320 billion in contracts, according to the report.

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