August 20, 2010
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced this week that the agency has fined the U.S. Postal Service $225,000 for safety violations at its Dayton, OH processing center and $350,000 for safety violations at its Portsmouth, NH processing and distribution center, bringing the total fines to 2.4 million dollars since April 2010.
OSHA inspections since November 2009 have repeatedly found willful safety violations such as inadequate training for employees exposed to electrical hazards, failure to provide electrical protective equipment to protect employees from arc-flash hazards and electrical current, and failure to use appropriate safety signs, safety symbols or accident prevent tags to warn employees about electrical hazards. The agency also found that employees who inspected hazardous energy control procedures lacked the knowledge and training to determine if those procedures were performed correctly.
"The Postal Service’s blatant disregard for workplace safety standards has left workers at this facility exposed to unnecessary risk of serious injury," Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said in a June 8, 2010 release about fining a Pittsburgh, PA postal facility.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
"These citations and sizable fines reflect the Postal Service’s failure to equip its workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely work with live electrical parts," Michaels once again criticized the U.S. Postal Service in a June 28, 2010 release regarding the facility in Scarborough, ME. "The Postal Service knew that proper and effective training was needed for the safety of its workers but did not provide it."
OSHA investigations found that the numerous, similar electrical work safety violations were so widespread in U.S. Postal Service facilities across the country that on July 6, 2010 the U.S. Department of Labor filed a complaint asking the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order USPS to correct electrical violations at 350 facilities. Marking the first time the department has sought enterprise-wide relief as a remedy.
"When the same safety violation is discovered in multiple locations of an organization, we need an enterprise-wide remedy to protect workers from the hazard," said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith.
“Even though it was aware of the hazards, USPS failed to institute the necessary measures to protect its workers," Michaels said of the complaint. "The complaint filed today seeks to put a stop to this irresponsible behavior."
OSHA 2010 News Releases Regarding U.S. Postal Service Safety Violations
April 30, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $558,000 in fines to US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Providence, RI, mail processing facility
May 10, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA fines US Postal Service processing center in Bedford Park, Ill., $210,000 for willful safety violations
June 8, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA fines US Postal Service nearly $300,000 for exposing workers to electrical hazards at Pittsburgh, Pa., facility
June 21, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $77,500 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Portland, Ore., mail processing facility
June 28, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $430,000 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Scarborough, Maine, mail processing facility
July 12, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $272,000 in fines against US Postal Service for exposing workers to electrical hazards at Capitol Heights, Md., facility
August 18, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA fines Dayton, Ohio, US Postal Service processing center $225,000 for willful and serious safety violations
August 20, 2010 – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $350,000 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Portsmouth, NH, mail processing facility