Should Worker Safety Be Considered When Government Contracts Are Awarded?

A television station in Raleigh, North Carolina (NBC-17) reported the other week that a paving contractor was awarded a new contract because its bid was $6,000 lower than other bids. The bids ranged from $996,000 to $1.2 million. Nothing unusual about that, except the winning company, Triangle Grading and Paving Company, has “dozens more construction-related safety violations than the other companies.

Last year two Triangle workers (Luis Gomez and Jesus Benitez) died when they entered a manhole that had unsafe levels of oxygen, and their deaths could have been avoided had the company conducted required testing before they entered the manhole.

Is it possible this company is able to out-bid other companies because they don’t take the time and expense to insure a safe workplace?

One legislator, Paul Luebke, says he intends to file legislation that will require local governments to take into account the safety records of any company bidding on a government contract. Would that change the way some companies enforce safety regulations? Would that create a more even playing field for competitive bids? We don’t know for sure, but one thing is certain: it we do nothing, we will never know.

If we truly care about safety and if we truly care about fair play in the marketplace, then every government contracting agency, from top to bottom, should adopt this policy.

 

More on the Triangle Grading and Paving story:

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