The former civilian safety chief of Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Indiana alleged safety violations with explosives at the munitions plant in a complaint to an independent government agency.
Rick Ward, an Army reservist and the installation’s former safety chief, first filed a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in October 2020. The Bloomington, Indiana Herald-Times previously reported on the alleged violations.
“They’re just sloppy,” Ward told the Herald-Times. “They don’t follow (standard operating procedures.)”
Ward said that personnel at Crane move explosives with chains and slings not inspected for years. Ward warned that bombs have dropped after chains and slings failed. Dropped bombs could explode and kill people, he warned.
The former safety chief filed the complaint to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent government agency that derives some of its authority through the Whistleblower Protection Act. A letter written in October by U.S. Special Counsel Henry Kerner to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders said the Army’s investigation into the matter “partially or fully substantiated” five of eight complaints Ward lodged against the facility.
The facility south of Bloomington serves as the location to “safely receive, inspect, store, ship, renovate, demilitarize, and manufacture conventional ammunition, missiles, and related components to support Army and Joint Force readiness,” according to the facility’s website.
This is not the first time that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration looked into safety practices at the Indiana plant.
In an October 2013 finding, OSHA investigators found 34 “serious” violations. Classifying a violation as “serious” means the violation has a “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known,” according to the statement.
“The Crane Army Ammunition Activity failed to ensure the facility was in compliance with established safety and health procedures,” Vanessa Martin, director of OSHA’s Indianapolis Area Office, said in a statement.
Zamone “Z” Perez is a rapid response reporter and podcast producer at Defense News and Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.