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Bluefield WV Post Office Fined $280K by OSHA for Electrical Safety Violations

November 18, 2010 Leave a comment

BLUEFIELD, WEST VIRGINIA — A mail-processing facility in Bluefield has been cited for several workplace safety violations for allegedly exposing workers to electrical hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found multiple violations at the 3010 East Cumberland Road facility in Bluefield. OSHA said employees were working with live electrical parts, leaving them vulnerable to multiple hazards. OSHA said one serious citation was issued for allowing an unauthorized employee to perform inspections at the facility.

The violations allege the Bluefield facility failed to label electrical cabinets, properly train employees, use safety-related work practices when exposed to energized electrical parts and provide proper electrical protective equipment.

Cathy Yarosky, a communications program specialist with the United States Postal Service in Charleston, said the citations will have no impact on the normal customer operations at the Bluefield facility. Yaroksy said the alleged violations occurred in a plant facility where there is no access to customers.

“The postal service places the safety and well being of its employees as a top priority,” Yarosky said. “Bureau of Labor statistics validate that the postal service works twice as safe as other delivery organizations. The National Safety Council recognized more than 5,800 of our employees for driving a million miles without an accident. No other business comes close. The council’s 2009 Safe Driver of the Year award was presented to one of our dedicated employees who drove two million miles accident free.”

Yarosky said efforts to enhance safe electrical work practices are already underway.

“Additionally, in January 2010, the postal service began implementing an electrical work plan to enhance its safe electrical work practices for employees, and the postal service believes this plan meets OSHA standards,” Yarosky said. “The plan provides for electrical risk assessments, training, personal protective equipment (ppe), enhanced safe electrical work practices and insulated tools. As a result of the plan, the Postal Service has already provided 123,000 hours of training for more than 20,000 maintenance employees. We are in the process of distributing more than $2 million in protective safety gear to them.”

OSHA initiated an inspection of the Bluefield facility in May. Inspectors cited the facility with four willful violations carrying a penalty of $280,000 and one serious violation with a penalty of $7,000.

The postal service has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply with, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings of the citations, according to the OSHA press release.

Story via BDTonline.com

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USPS Electrical Safety Violation Fines Stacking Up from OSHA

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

The United States Postal Service is set to lose tens of millions of dollars for a series of “willful” health and safety violations at its processing facilities across America.

While desperately searching for possible cutbacks to stem its multi-billion dollar losses, the organisation is being sued by the federal government for what are described as an “indifference to employee safety and health”.

The USPS has been accused of putting its workers at risk and ignoring long-established safety procedures.

The latest fine, announced this week, was for five safety violations at the USPS processing centre in Columbus, Ohio, for which a $210,000 fine was proposed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), an agency of the US Department of Labor.

The Columbus fine brings the Postal Service’s total fines imposed this year to more than $4.3m, for violations in at least 15 processing centres.

Previous fines handed out this year have been as high as $558,000 for 12 violations at the Providence Processing and Delivery Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

The OHSA is currently looking into health and safety complaints regarding 350 of the USPS locations.

If the other processing facilities lead to similar fines to those handed out so far this year, the Postal Service could be facing total fines above the $100m mark.

In Columbus, the OSHA began inspecting the processing centre back in April, in response to complaints from USPS employees.

Inspectors found that the Postal Service was not providing adequate safety training, and was not ensuring workers followed safety-related work practices when dealing with electrical equipment.

Appropriate personal protective equipment was not being provided for those working on energised electrical equipment, the OSHA said.

The agency said the violations were “committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health”.

Assistant secretary of labour for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels, said: “These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards. The Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm’s way.”

USPS told Post&Parcel yesterday that it is reviewing the OSHA’s concerns.

Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders said the USPS had begun a programme to enhance its safety procedures as far back as January 2010, including 123,000 hours of training for more than 20,000 maintenance employees.

He said the USPS is in the process of distributing more than $2m worth of protective safety gear for staff, including safety glasses, face shields and protective gloves, lab coats and coveralls.

Saunders said: “Regardless, one accident, or the potential for one accident – on the road, in a Post Office or a mail processing plant – is one too many. We will review OSHA’s concerns and make necessary adjustments to continue to ensure a safe working environment for our employees.”

Story via PostandParcel.info

Columbus OH Post Office Fined $210K by OSHA for Electrical Hazards

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

COLUMBUS, OHIO -The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service with five alleged willful violations at its Columbus processing center.  The Postal Service faces a total of $210,000 in fines for electrical and equipment hazards following an OSHA inspection conducted in response to employee complaints.

OSHA’s inspection, which began in April 2010, found that the Postal Service failed to provide adequate electrical safety training, ensure that workers followed safety-related work practices while working on electrical equipment and provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment while working on energized electrical equipment.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.  

“These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.  “The Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm’s way.”

The Department of Labor has filed an enterprise-wide complaint against the U.S. Postal Service for electrical work safety violations. The complaint asks the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order the Postal Service to correct electrical violations at all its facilities nationwide. This complaint marks the first time OSHA has sought enterprise-wide relief as a remedy.

The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.  This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s area office in Columbus.  To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742

Story via NBC4i.com

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

October 16, 2010 2 comments

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

OSHA fines Bedford USPS Center $210K for Electrical Safety Violations

BEDFORD PARK, ILLINOIS – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service with three alleged willful violations at its Bedford Park, Ill., processing center. The Postal Service faces a total of $210,000 in fines, for electrical and protective equipment hazards, following an OSHA inspection conducted in response to employee complaints.

OSHA’s inspection, which began in November 2009, found that the Postal Service failed to provide required electrical safety training for its workers; to ensure workers used safety-related work practices while working on electrical equipment; and to provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment while working on energized equipment. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

“These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. “The Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm’s way.”

Within the past five years, OSHA has conducted more than 900 inspections at USPS facilities across the country and has issued more than 600 citations. The Bedford Park location has more than 800 employees and has received several OSHA citations during the past four years.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Calumet City Area Office; telephone 708-891-3800.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit OSHA .

Story Via Postal News Blog

OSHA Fines USPS $558K for Willful Electrical Safety Violations

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has charged the USPS in Providence, RI with 12 willful and serious safety violations, and ordered it to pay fines of $558,000. The Postal Service “ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm’s way,” OSHA said. The violations “exposed workers at the Providence facility to the serious and potentially fatal hazards of shock, electrocution and arc-flash.

The citations substantiate charges levied by the APWU regarding the Postal Service’s failure to adhere to OSHA standards for electrical safety. The Postal Service has 15 days to respond.

“These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards,” Dr. David Michaels, OSHA assistant secretary, said in a press release. Inspectors found untrained or unqualified workers performing tests on live electrical equipment at the Providence Processing & Distribution Center, the news release noted, generating eight citations for willful safety violations and fines of $530,000.

The remaining $28,000 in fines were associated with four citations for serious safety violations, including failing to instruct workers on the proper procedures for locking out machines’ power sources to prevent unexpected startup during maintenance and related hazards. The inspection also revealed that personal protective equipment, work practices and warning signs were inadequate, OSHA said.

OSHA inspections were conducted between Nov. 2, 2009, and April 28, 2010, after the Providence Area Local filed a complaint. The local acted in response to a request from national Industrial Relations Director Greg Bell, who sent a letter to local presidents encouraging them to file complaints over the Postal Service’s failure to comply with OSHA’s electrical regulations.

“APWU has made many attempts to discuss and correct known electrical risks and hazards,” Bell wrote to locals on Oct. 22, 2009 [letter, complaint form and instructions for local presidents – PDF]. OSHA conducted inspections of postal facilities in 2007 and 2008 and found violations of various electrical safety standards, he said. “The Postal Service agreed that these hazards existed and entered into informal settlements, but has so far failed to correct the problems.”

To combat the USPS intransigence, the national union developed guidelines and urged locals across the country to file OSHA complaints.

“I commend the Providence Local for their diligent efforts to correct these dangerous hazards,” Bell said. He also praised the efforts of Northeast Region Coordinator John Dirzius, who lent support to the Providence Local and other locals in the region that filed similar charges.

“The Providence Local is the first to generate citations, but many others are in the pipeline,” Bell said.

Story Via Postal Reporter News