B-147883, FEBRUARY 7, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 531

B-147883: Feb 7, 1962

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WHO ARE ENGAGED IN OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT. ARE EXAMINATIONS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE AND. FUNDS OF THE CORPORATION MAY BE USED FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS PROVIDED THAT AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF NECESSITY IS MADE. REQUESTED OUR OPINION AS TO WHETHER THE COST OF PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS FOR CERTAIN EMPLOYEES IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE FUNDS OF THE CORPORATION. HE SAYS THAT SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES REFERRED TO ARE ENGAGED IN OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT. THAT THE CRANES ARE USED ON BARGES WHEN INSTALLING AND REMOVING HEAVY BUOYS AND OTHER NAVIGATION AIDS FROM THE WATERS UNDER CONTROL OF THE CORPORATION. DEXTERITY ARE REQUIRED FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT OPERATIONS.

B-147883, FEBRUARY 7, 1962, 41 COMP. GEN. 531

OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES - HEALTH SERVICES - EXAMINATIONS ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY CORPORATION, WHO ARE ENGAGED IN OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT, TO DETERMINE THEIR FITNESS FOR THEIR OCCUPATIONS, TO LESSEN THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACCIDENTS DUE TO UNDISCLOSED PHYSICAL WEAKNESSES WHICH COULD BE EXPENSIVE TO THE CORPORATION IN COSTS OF COMPENSATION AND PROPERTY LOSS OR DAMAGE, AND MIGHT RESULT IN INJURY OR LOSS OF LIFE TO EMPLOYEES, ARE EXAMINATIONS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE AND, THEREFORE, FUNDS OF THE CORPORATION MAY BE USED FOR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS PROVIDED THAT AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF NECESSITY IS MADE.

TO THE ADMINISTRATOR, SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, FEBRUARY 7, 1962:

ON JANUARY 3, 1962, THE COMPTROLLER-1TREASURER, SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, REQUESTED OUR OPINION AS TO WHETHER THE COST OF PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS FOR CERTAIN EMPLOYEES IS A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE FUNDS OF THE CORPORATION.

HE SAYS THAT SOME OF THE EMPLOYEES REFERRED TO ARE ENGAGED IN OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT, SUCH AS MOBILE CRANES; THAT THE CRANES ARE USED ON BARGES WHEN INSTALLING AND REMOVING HEAVY BUOYS AND OTHER NAVIGATION AIDS FROM THE WATERS UNDER CONTROL OF THE CORPORATION, OR TO RAISE AND LOWER MEN, MATERIALS, AND EQUIPMENT IN NARROW SHAFTS LEADING TO VALVE-OPERATING MACHINERY; AND THAT FOR SUCH OPERATIONS A HIGH DEGREE OF PHYSICAL ALERTNESS, COORDINATION, AND DEXTERITY ARE REQUIRED FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT OPERATIONS. HE ALSO SAYS THAT OTHER EMPLOYEES WORK ON LADDERS AND SCAFFOLDING UP TO 120 FEET ABOVE WATER OR GROUND LEVELS; AND THAT HERE ALSO ALERTNESS, COORDINATION, AND DEXTERITY ARE ESSENTIAL TO SAFE AND EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE OF THE ASSIGNED TASKS.

HE FURTHER SAYS THAT THE NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES TO BE EXAMINED IS SMALL AND THE COST WOULD BE MINOR, PROBABLY NOT TO EXCEED $200 PER YEAR, AND THAT NO PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN THIS AREA, SO THAT THE EXAMINATIONS WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE BY LOCAL PHYSICIANS AT REGULAR RATES.

THE SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION IS A WHOLLY OWNED UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT CORPORATION CREATED BY THE ACT OF MAY 13, 1954, 68 STAT. 92, 33 U.S.C. 981, ET SEQ. THE CORPORATE POWERS ARE SPECIFIED IN SECTION 4 (A) OF THE ACT, 33 U.S.C. 984, WHICH PROVIDES IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

(A) FOR THE PURPOSE OF CARRYING OUT ITS FUNCTIONS UNDER THIS CHAPTER THE CORPORATION---

(9) SHALL DETERMINE THE CHARACTER OF AND THE NECESSITY FOR ITS OBLIGATIONS AND EXPENDITURES, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH THEY SHALL BE INCURRED, ALLOWED AND PAID, SUBJECT TO PROVISIONS OF LAW SPECIFICALLY APPLICABLE TO GOVERNMENT CORPORATIONS * * *.

PRIOR DECISIONS OF OUR OFFICE HAVE HELD THAT WHEN THE PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS OF EMPLOYEES MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEES, THE EXPENSE OF SUCH EXAMINATIONS PROPERLY MAY BE PAID FROM PUBLIC FUNDS. THE GENERAL RULE REGARDING THE USE OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PAYMENT OF EXPENSES OF THE MEDICAL TREATMENT OR PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT WAS STATED IN 22 COMP. GEN. 32 AS FOLLOWS:

IT HAS BEEN LONG RECOGNIZED THAT THE EXPENSE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PERSONAL TO THE EMPLOYEE AND THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT THEREOF FROM PUBLIC FUNDS UNLESS PROVIDED FOR IN THE CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT OR BY STATUTORY ENACTMENT OR VALID REGULATION. 6 COMP. DEC. 955; 8 ID. 296; 11 ID. 177; 16 ID. 99; 3 COMP. GEN. 111; 18 ID. 533.

HOWEVER, THIS OFFICE HAS HELD THAT WHERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH THAT MEDICAL ATTENTION TO AN EMPLOYEE--- INCLUDING INOCULATION OR VACCINATION TO WHICH THESE EXAMINATIONS SEEM MORE OR LESS AKIN IN VIEW OF THEIR PRECAUTIONARY NATURE--- MAY BE CONSIDERED AS PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN THE EMPLOYEE, THE EXPENSE THEREOF MAY PROPERLY BE PAID FROM APPROPRIATED FUNDS. 2 COMP. DEC. 347; 6 ID.447; 60 MS COMP. DEC. 1425; A-29752, DECEMBER 17, 1929; A 32786, AUGUST 8, 1930; A-97344, AUGUST 26, 1938. CF. 15 COMP. GEN. 20.

HERE, THE COMPTROLLER-1TREASURER'S LETTER STATES THAT IN THE OPINION OF YOUR CHIEF OF ENGINEERING AND MAINTENANCE, AND OF YOUR SAFETY OFFICER, A PROGRAM OF ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS FOR SUCH EMPLOYEES IS ESSENTIAL TO DETERMINE THEIR FITNESS FOR THEIR OCCUPATIONS; THAT THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACCIDENTS DUE TO UNDISCLOSED PHYSICAL WEAKNESSES COULD BE EXPENSIVE TO THE CORPORATION IN COSTS OF COMPENSATION AND PROPERTY LOSS OR DAMAGE, AND MIGHT RESULT IN INJURY OR LOSS OF LIFE TO EMPLOYEES; AND THAT THE RISKS ARE FURTHER COMPLICATED BY THE NECESSITY OF ACCOMPLISHING A HEAVY MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE DURING THE WINTER OFF NAVIGATION SEASON UNDER SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS OF VERY LOW TEMPERATURES, SNOW, AND ICE.

IN VIEW OF THE REPRESENTATIONS STATED, THERE APPEARS A REASONABLE BASIS FOR HOLDING THAT THE PHYSICAL EXAMINATIONS OF THE EMPLOYEES IN QUESTION WOULD BE PRIMARILY FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT RATHER THAN FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE EMPLOYEES IN ORDER TO PREVENT SO FAR AS POSSIBLE DAMAGE OR INJURY TO GOVERNMENT PROPERTY AND PERSONNEL. 30 COMP. GEN. 387; B-145456, JULY 3, 1961; 41 COMP. GEN. 387.

THEREFORE, WE WOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBJECT TO THE PROPOSED EXPENDITURE OF CORPORATE FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSES ABOVE DISCUSSED ON THE BASIS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION OF NECESSITY UNDER 33 U.S.C. 984 (A) (9).