Safety and OSHA News

Safety manager convicted of hiding worker injuries

A safety manager, working on a federal government project, could face prison time and millions of dollars in fines for hiding workers’ injuries.

A jury convicted Walter Cardin of eight counts of major fraud against the United States.

Cardin was a safety manager for Shaw Group, responsible for information about employee injuries at three Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) sites.

Shaw had contracted with TVA to provide maintenance and modifications to three facilities.

Cardin was convicted of falsifying injury rates which were used by the Shaw Group to collect safety bonuses from TVA worth more than $2.5 million.

The jury heard evidence of over 80 injuries that weren’t properly recorded by Cardin, including:

  • broken bones
  • torn ligaments
  • hernias, and
  • shoulder, back and knee injuries.

As part of a settlement with the United States, the Shaw Group previously paid back twice the $2.5 million safety bonus. Shaw didn’t admit wrongdoing.

Cardin faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2013.

OSHA has instructed its inspectors to search for safety incentive programs that might cause workers or supervisors to hide injuries to receive rewards or bonuses.

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Comments

  1. Serves him right. Integrity is the core of any safety effort. But, you cannot tell me he was not influenced by those that run the company.

  2. Wait, TVA was paying bonuses based on Injury and Illness Rates? I thought OSHA was strongly discouraging this and looking to cite employers who did so. Why isn’t TVA facing any penalties for having a program that promoted hiding these injuries?

    There is also no mention whether or not these workers did not receive the proper medical treatment or comp payments.

    Shame on this guy for falsifying the records. Shame on TVA for offering such a ridiculous incentive to under report, in violation OSHA’s own directives. Only one party is being held accountable though, and that isn’t right.

  3. Side issue here I know, but the article focuses only on the “bad” contractor who “falsified” records to defraud the government. Yet the government itself (TVA) actually created an incentive for the behavior by including a significant monetary bonus award in the contract related to minimizing injuries.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of OSHA’s big initiatives now a focus on preventing disincentives for injury reporting? The article itself even mentions that “OSHA has instructed its inspectors to search for safety incentive programs that might cause workers or supervisors to hide injuries to receive rewards or bonuses”. Businesses have been handed citations and penalties where OSHA has determined that they operated employee incentive programs that encouraged under-reporting of injuries. (Sound familiar?)

    Yes, Shaw apparently did a bad thing. But at the same time, did TVA receive so much as a hand-slap for its part in this with their “incentive” program?

  4. First, programs don’t commit criminal behavior…… people do. Safety and risk management is about MONEY, say what you will about all the other factors promoting “Safe Work” practices. It’s about money, cost, limiting cost and liability. Compliance is a minimum standard….minimum standard. What methods a company employs to gain a financial advantage in the market is their business.

    If an organization employs a Safety Incentive Program to promote, encourage or motivate it’s managers and employees….GREAT !…

    Do you think Sales and Marketing bonus programs should be set aside as well? Think about it…….Performance bonus programs have been a standard in almost every segment of commerce and industry for as long as I can remember and will remain.

    Safety performance is no different than any other measurable performance indicator in any industry where failure of a process has a direct impact on the bottom line.

    Have checks and balance processes within any performance based program is mandatory…it’s called auditing.

  5. TeleJoke says:

    DMAC kudos to you….I could not have said it any better. I see that with a lot of companies. I have worked for major and small companies and they all are doing it. I have personally been asked myself to falsify something when I refused I was considered a trouble employee. Although, I’m still working for that company, everyday is a major challenge.

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