The president is planning to make good on his campaign promise to considerably expand the U.S. Navy’s fleet of ships, but the move could spell trouble for shipyard workers across New York and the nation. Per Politico, while the shipbuilding business boom may be good for company profits, increased business often means more injuries and illnesses for workers. This is particularly concerning given that shipyard workers already face an illness and injury rate that trumps that of construction workers, another inherently dangerous job, by 80 percent.
Part of the problem may be linked to a lack of regulation in the industry. For example, there is no established system that exists between the armed forces and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that allows the Navy to search for safety violations at a shipbuilding company before awarding it a contract. Additionally, the military is limited in what companies it can use to build its fleet, as security concerns require that ships be made on American soil.
There is also nothing stopping the U.S. Navy from awarding major contracts to companies that have had safety sanctions opposed on them, and history has shown that this is, in fact, happening in America. The seven main shipbuilding companies used by the Navy and Coast Guard have all been cited as a result of injuries and fatalities suffered by their workers, but they have collectively received more than $100 billion in public money nonetheless.
Shipyard workers, according to MarineInsight.com, hold one of the most dangerous professions, and they run the risk of suffering injury or fatality due to factors that include a hazardous work environment and a high risk of slips and falls. Shipyard workers, too, are prone to injuries caused by machines, explosions, fires and chemical hazards.