Health and Safety:

Protecting Department of Energy Workers' Health and Safety

T-RCED-94-143: Published: Mar 9, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 1994.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) protection of its industrial complex workers' safety and health, focusing on: (1) DOE health and safety problems; (2) the DOE Health Surveillance Program; and (3) the quality of data on workers' exposure to toxic substances. GAO noted that: (1) DOE has failed to adequately address the potential adverse health effects from workers' exposure to toxic substances at DOE sites; (2) the age and inadequate maintenance of DOE weapons facilities pose a substantial hazard to cleanup personnel and have led to one fatality; (3) the DOE Secretary has implemented a number of initiatives to address worker health and safety problems; (4) DOE will not fully implement its Health Surveillance Program until 1998 and therefore it cannot systematically determine if hazardous conditions at DOE sites affect workers' health; (5) only 7 of 33 DOE facilities are currently covered by the program; (6) some major illnesses and injuries are not reported because the affected employee never returns to work; and (7) DOE exposure data are inaccurate because facility equipment is not properly calibrated, assessment techniques are inadequate, and documentation varies among DOE facilities.

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