OSHA fines USPS nearly $800,000 for exposing workers to electrical hazards at three facilities

 

OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service for workplace safety violations, related to electrical hazards found at two Philadelphia facilities, following an investigation, conducted by OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office, as a direct result of complaints received by OSHA regarding both locations. Proposed penalties total $497,000. OSHA has, also, cited the U.S. Postal Service, in Pittsburgh, for violations related to electrical hazards found at its mail processing facility, located at 1001 California Ave. Proposed penalties total $299,500.

OSHA's inspections of the Network Distribution Center (NDC), at 1900 Byberry Road, and the Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC), at 7500 Lindberg Blvd., found inadequately trained employees performing work, without the proper personal protective equipment, while exposed to live parts. As a result of these conditions, OSHA cited the NDC with four willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $280,000, and the P&DC with three willful violations, with a penalty of $210,000, and one serious violation, with a penalty of $7,000.

"The Postal Service's disregard for workplace safety standards has left workers at these facilities exposed to unnecessary dangers including electric shock, electrocution, fires and explosions," said Al D'Imperio, director of OSHA's Philadelphia Area Office.

The inspection of the U.S. Postal Service facility, conducted by OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office, was initiated, in October 2009, in response to a complaint alleging the hazards. Inspectors cited the Postal Service with four willful violations, carrying a penalty of $265,000; one repeat violation, with a penalty of $25,000; and two serious violations, with a penalty of $9,500. The willful violations included 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 repeat violation resulted from the facility's failure to use approved covers for electrical junction boxes; the serious violations included the use of an unapproved junction box in a wet and damp location, and failure to provide voltage-rated tools.

Each respective postal service office has 15 business days, from receipt of its citations, to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Philadelphia violations are the fifth set of citations issued to the Postal Service, since April 29. In addition to the Pittsburgh citations, other safety citations were issued in Bedford Park, Illinois; in Denver, Colorado; and in Providence, Rhode Island. These most recent charges bring the Postal Service's total OSHA fines to nearly $1.8 million.