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GAO report highlights dangers on DOD construction projects

Construction workers in Connecticut and around the country have some of the nation's most dangerous jobs, but advances in life-saving equipment, stricter regulations and a greater focus on safety in both the private and public sectors have made building sites far safer in recent years. However, a recent study from the Government Accountability Office reveals that these benefits are not always enjoyed by construction workers on Department of Defense projects.

This is a serious issue because the DOD spends $320 billion each year on construction projects that employ thousands of workers. The GAO scrutinized the safety records of 192 contractors awarded DOD contracts between 2013 and 2017, and the agency found that 83 of them had been cited at least once for violating safety regulations. GAO researchers identified 52 companies with a combined 195 serious violations that led to seven worker deaths and dozens of serious injuries.

Recommendations the GAO made to improve safety on DOD construction projects include the assigning of safety ratings to companies engaged to perform dangerous work and letting these companies know that databases maintained by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be checked before contracts are awarded. The GAO also urged OSHA to improve the quality of the information contained in these databases by collecting corporate identifying information during inspections.

Construction workers who are injured while on the job usually rely on workers' compensation benefits to help them make ends meet until they are able to resume their duties. However, the application process can be confusing for those unfamiliar with official paperwork. Attorneys with experience in this area might help injured workers to complete the necessary documents and gather any medical evidence needed to support their claims. Attorneys may also advocate on their behalf during workers' compensation hearings if their applications are contested by their employers.

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