Today on Manufacturing Talk Radio we will be discussing a recent story that has left many Americans in utter disbelief. US Military combat helmets manufactured in prisons across the country were found to be faulty and did not meet standards. Unsupervised inmates were throwing these helmets together with no concern for quality and inspection failed, at least in one instance quality assurance was done over a fax machine. In today’s podcast we will be going over this major oversight by Federal Prison Industries and we’ll also be taking a look at the overall impact of subcontracting prisons to manufacture products in the United States.
While reporting on this one particular instance of manufacturing faulty US military helmets in US prisons, a comment on our Facebook page pointed out a non-profit organization that is helping US service members live a more comfortable life while overseas. Operation Helmet, Inc. provides replacement helmet pads to troops in combat zones. The standard issue pads are known to be incredibly uncomfortable and are less able to protect the soldier against Traumatic Brain Injury than the ones provided by Operation Helmet. Not only does it make wearing the helmet more comfortable, the standard issue pads put so much stress and pressure on a soldiers head they routinely remove the helmet during patrols and other field operations. This opens the soldier up to a number of different injuries while also distracting them from their mission.
Operation Helmet, Inc. provides these replacement helmet pads at no charge to the individual. The pads that Operation Helmet provides were actually the ones the US military used for 600,000+ Advanced Combat Helmets before the military scaled back their budget and switched over to cheaper pads provided by Team Wendy and/or MSA. “While the current GI helmet pads pass the same laboratory tests as those by Oregon Aero, they have proven so hard and unyielding that troops take their brain buckets off or loosen the chin strap for pressure relief, severely compromising protection. In addition, The Lawrence Livermore National Research lab found that too-hard helmet pads actually add to brain damage from a blast wave, further adding to the incidence of TBI.” A quote taken from Operation Helmets homepage, operation-helmet.org
This incredible organization has already sent out over 83,000 helmet pad replacements. It may seem like a trivial upgrade at first glance, but considering the amount of time soldiers wear their helmets and the intense stresses they’re under, a simple upgrade like this can make a world of difference. Beyond comfort, offering better protection and allowing the individual to wear the helmet for longer periods of time create a safer and more reliable combat helmet.
Today’s topic covers how the US government avoids the costs of American manufacturing by utilizing prison labor instead. Some businesses are even barred from bidding on contracts unless they too use prison labor. Issues such as uncomfortable pads in combat helmets are only a small part of the problem. Not only is this impacting our Military and our service members overseas, it’s taking business away from the small manufacturers around the country. Listen in to today’s show to find out more: bit.ly/2bOLCce
Find out more about Operation Helmet, Inc. here: operation-helmet.org