Newport News Shipyard workers demand to see a doctor on site due to poor working conditions

Posted at 6:21 PM, Apr 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-28 19:30:47-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The United Steelworkers Local 8888 labor union honored 10 workers who died on the job at Newport News Shipyard.

They held a Workers Memorial Day service on Friday afternoon. It was an effort to call attention to work related accidents that sometimes turn deadly.

"Workers as we go to work we go there to work," said a Newport News Shipyard employee. "We do not go to work to die and we do not go to work to be disabled."

Shipyard workers are speaking out after years of dealing with what they say are unsafe working conditions.

Local 8888 says far too many workers have reported injuries while working at the facility.

They filed a complaint to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in 2015 that put the shipyard on probation.

"Sometimes they have holes from one deck to the next," said Local 8888 Vice President, Arnold Outlaw. "They're suppose to be either covered or some kind of protection around us sometimes they don't and we've had workers fallen into holes. We've had workers fallen off ladders."

The labor union says that in order to get off probation the shipyard hired a physical therapist on site, but mentioned that a therapist doesn't help decrease injuries.

"We've had several instances where people were injured a little too serious than to be given physical therapy," said Local 8888 safety chairman, Allen Harville. "They really needed to be diagnosed by a doctor."

They add that if workers see a doctor injuries can be recorded properly.

"So that there could be an investigation and how that injury occurred and then we can get to the root cause of the hazard that caused it and remove the hazard," added Harville.

News 3 reached out to the Newport News Shipyard for comment, but they didn't respond.

Local 888 is debating whether to address the safety issue by filing another complaint with OSHA. They plan to discuss that at their next monthly meeting.