Federal worksites - better at compliance

A special report to Congress by the federal General Accounting Office (GAO) in Washington, DC, reveals that worksites funded with federal money are no safer than others. The GAO studied safety violations at federal worksites in 1994, in response to a Congressional request regarding the safety of federal worksites in comparison to others.

The GAO found that there were 345 U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspections of federal worksites, representing 16% of all inspections in 1994 in which the federal agency assessed a significant penalty. Many of the worksites where the violations occurred employed 500 or fewer workers and were engaged in manufacturing. The products included paper, food, and primary and fabricated metals.

"Workers were at substantial risk of injury or illness in some of these federal contractors’ sites," due to the number and nature of the violations, the fatalities associated with them, and the high penalties assessed. For 88% of the inspections, OSHA identified at least one violation that it classified as serious. For 69%, OSHA found violations it classified as willful. Most of the violations, 72%, were of general industry hazards, including failure to protect workers from electrical hazards and injuries due to machine guarding.

There were 35 fatalities and 85 injuries at 50 federal worksites.