Several news agencies, including the World Nuclear News, reported last week that a 78 month jail sentence has been received by Walter Cardin, a former Safety Manager, for deliberately falsifying workplace injury records. Cardin was previously employed by a subsidiary of Shaw Group, Stone and Webster Construction. Stone and Webster had been contracted by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a US government corporation, to provide maintenance and repair services at two nuclear sites. Services included construction work for a restart of a facility. Reportedly, Cardin provided false and misleading information about worker injuries at the facilities, which was then used by Stone and Webster to collect safety bonuses of over $2.5 million from the TVA.
The corporation repaid the bonuses, and then some, to the US government as part of a civil settlement over the false claims and contract fraud in early 2009. Cardin proceeded to trial.
Cardin was convicted after a November 2012 jury trial of falsifying records. The court found that more than 80 injuries, involving broken bones, torn ligaments, and other injuries were not properly reported and employees were denied medical treatment or received delayed medical treatment as a result of the Safety Manager’s actions. He reportedly denied intentionally misclassifying the injuries and said he did not know safety bonuses were tied to his injury reports. Investigators found emails confirming the contrary. The Safety Manger’s sentence took into account a finding that he had obstructed the course of justice in the trial by denying his actions, despite evidence ot the contrary. Prosecutors commented after the sentencing that the Safety Manager’s practices:
- affected the safety of the work environment of nuclear sites,
- resulted in employees becoming more reluctant to report injuries, employers failing to address safety issues at work sites, and
- employees working through medical conditions that created risks of additional injuries to themselves and others.