Home > Industrial, Legal > WV Post Office Facing $212K in Fines for Electrical Safety Violations

WV Post Office Facing $212K in Fines for Electrical Safety Violations

HUNTINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA — The U.S. Postal Service said it implemented a plan last January to improve safe electrical work practices at all its facilities.

However, an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that began in April showed that workers at the Huntington Postal Service processing facility on Virginia Avenue had been exposed to potential electrical hazards. As a result the agency is proposing a fine of $212,500.

Prentice Kline, area director of OSHA’s Charleston office, said the inspection was a result of a complaint filed to the agency earlier this year.

He said the electrical safety inspection began in April, but it took six months to complete the inspection, review the outcome and determine what action would be taken. The Postal Service was issued citations for three willful violations.

In a release, Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels said the citations “reflect the Postal Service’s failure to equip its workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely work with live electrical parts.” He also said the Postal Service knew which training was needed but didn’t provide it to employees.

Kline said the Postal Service has 15 business days from receiving the citations to comply, meet with the OSHA director or contest the citations.

“The Postal Service is in no way facing criminal charges,” Kline said. “This is a civil penalty, which is meant to be a deterrent. The effect of these citations is meant to encourage compliance with the OSHA Act.”

In a statement Thursday, the Postal Service defended its safety record, and said it will review OSHA’s concerns and make the necessary adjustments.

In its release, OSHA reported that The Postal Service failed “to utilize lockout procedures that prevent electrical parts from being inadvertently energized.”

Kline and The Postal Service confirmed that no employees had been injured as a result of the violations. However, Kline said, if an employee were to be injured at this point, The Postal Service could face additional inspections and violations.

Kline said while the standards on who gets inspected and when are complicated, he said they can be broken down into two basic criteria.

The first sort of inspection is what Kline called a “strategic” inspection, which is conducted at a facility that had a very high-risk and potential injury factor, such as a sawmill. He said this sort of inspection is executed on a fairly regular basis.

Kline said the second sort of inspection is a response-based inspection, which is what occurred with the Postal Service facility. He said lower-risk facilities are inspected regularly but not as often as facilities that undergo strategic inspections. He said that anytime there is a complaint, an injury or a fatality, OSHA will inspect the facility in question.

Story Via Herald Dispatch

  1. October 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Electrocution is one of four types of accidents that account for 90% of construction activity-related injuries and death in the workplace. A comprehensive electrical safety program is necessary for best practices. There are several places where you can find safety programs. First, you can check with OSHA, or many states who run their own programs, for sample programs you may use or adapt. http://www.safetyplandownloads.com is a great site for safety programs for construction safety programs. http://www.cpwr.org is another good site with lots of information for craftworkers, and of course http://www.osha.gov ‘s site as well.

  1. October 16, 2010 at 10:30 pm

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