Report on audit of Department of Energy contractor occupational injury and illness reporting practices
BACKGROUND: The Department and its contractors are responsible for ensuring that a safe and healthy work environment is provided to Department k d contractor employees at its operating facilities. Contractors are responsible for establishing a' comprehensive occupational safety and health program, which includes reporting of significant work-related employee injuries. The Department is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the contractor's programs. Two performance indicators used by
... indicators used by the Department to measure a contractor's safety performance are the number and severity of work-related employee injuries and of lost workdays rates. The objective of the audit was to determine whether Department of Energy contractors accurately reported occupational injuries and illnesses in accordance with Departmental requirements. DISCUSSION: Management and operating contractors were not reporting all significant work-related injuriedillnesses as required by Departmental and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines. The audit identified 11 1 of237 judgmentally selected calendar year 1995 cases at the Savannah River and Lawrence Livepnore sites that were incorrectly categorized as minor. These cases should have been reported to the Depakment as significant injuries or illnesses. This underreporting occurred because contractor personnel did not obtain sufficient medical, restricted work activity, or lost worktime information relating to the injury or illness, or they did not properly interpret OSHA reporting requirements. In addition, the Department did not have a systematic process fix periodically validating the completeness and accuracy of contractor generated injury and illness d2ta. Underreporting of injuries and illnesses has been a recurring problem at Department of Energy contract facilities. In December 1990, OSHA found reporting problems at about half of the facilities covered in its review, including underreporting of employee lost workdays and improper application of work restrictions. In 1992, Departmental reviews 2 at the Nevada and Richland Operations Offices found instances of recordable work restricted duty and medical treatment injury cases that were improperly classified as nonrecordable or non-occupational cases. Similar recordkeeping problems were identSed in 1992 and 1994 Departmental reviews at Oak Ridge. Further, an October 1996 Departmental review of injury and illness reporting at the Idahe National Engineering Laboratory found significant underreporting by abcontractors and concluded that the subcontractor injuryhllness information reported to the Department was unreliable. Without accurate health and safety information, the Department cannot adequately manage its occupational'safety and health programs, measure contractor performance, and ensure that its facilities provide a safe and healthy work environment. In addition, incorrect reporting also could potentially have an impact on contractor fees. The Department is presently developing benchmarks and performance measures to ensure that its facilities follow "best in class" policies and practices. However, without accurate and complete information provided by Departmental contractors, this program may not achieve its intended results. To strengthen the Department's occupational safkty and health program, we recommended that the Managers of the Savannah River and Oakland Operations Offices ensure that their contractors take action to correct the occupational injury and illness recordkeeping problems identified in the report. We also recommended that the Department examine all contractor programs and issue additional guidance delineating OSHA reporting requirements. Management generally concurred with the audit finding and recommendations.