The Sandi Group, a District-based defense contractor, has agreed to a $75,000 settlement with the Labor Department over failing to timely report deaths and injuries of 30 employees in Iraq, the department said late last month.
Of the 30 cases, 10 involved injuries and 20 were deaths, according to the Labor Department. The employees were security guards, drivers and translators who worked in and around Baghdad between 2003 and 2005.
The Sandi Group did not return requests for comment. According to the company’s Web site, it is a global firm that provides design, real estate development, construction and security services to U.S. and foreign governments, corporations, media organizations and others in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Sandi Group has received $87.6 million in federal contracts, according to USAspending.gov.
The settlement is the single largest penalty against an employer for failing to timely report worker injuries and deaths. Under the Defense Base Act — a federal law that protects civilian employees working on U.S. military bases outside the United States, or under a contract with the federal government — companies are required to report worker injuries and deaths within 10 days to the Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation, which is part of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, a Labor Department unit that administers disability compensation programs.
A spokesman for the Labor Department said the settlement marks the first time an employer declined to pay a civil penalty assessed by the OWCP, thus forcing the matter to go before the department’s Office of Administrative Legal Judges for enforcement.
“Timely reporting of work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities are vitally important to protect the interests of injured workers and their families,” OWCP Acting Director Gary A. Steinberg said in a statement. “In the case of injuries and illnesses, this enables timely medical treatment, payment of compensation benefits and, when possible, return to work, and for fatalities, timely issuance of death benefits for eligible survivors.”
As part of the settlement, the Sandi Group also agreed that future violations would result in greater penalties, the Labor Department said.