AVONDALE SHIPYARD BRACES FOR ADVERSE REPORT
New Orleans-based shipyard Avondale Industries Inc. is bracing for the
release of an expected critical report from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health
Administration, which Reuters reports could be due as early as today.
OSHA’s six-month probe of the shipyard reportedly found more than 150
specific safety violations, union representative said.
Avondale has accused OSHA’S inspection leader of bias against the
company. Company attorney H.A. "Topper" Thompson told Reuters the team leader
"from day one … had a predertimed agenda to undermine the
credibility of Avondale’s safety and health programs."
OSHA, in a briefing with union and Avondale representatives, read from a
list of concerns that included unsafe scaffolding, missing guard rails and
dangerous floor openings.
While company critics pointed to seven deaths at the shipyard in the
last decade, Avondale emphasized there had been no deaths since 1995, and
that some of the seven deaths involved contractors or were found by OSHA to be unrelated
to company practices.
OSHA’s investigation was started last October after complaints by the
Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.
Newport News Shipbuilding Inc. has agreed to buy Avondale for $470
million, but the deal may be scuttled by a takeover offer for Newport News
by General Dynamics Corp., Reuters reported.