APWU Web News Article 025-2013, March 8 , 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a citation to the Postal Service for unsafe working conditions at its Scarborough ME facility and fined the agency $27,500 on Feb. 1.
The Postal Service failed to mark aisles in work areas where mechanical handling equipment such as forklifts and tow-motors routinely travel, in violation of OSHA Standard 29 CPR 1910.176(a), OSHA charged. The Postal Service has appealed, and the APWU has requested “party status” to participate in the appeal process.
OSHA classified the violation as a “repeat” offense because “final orders” for the same unsafe practice were previously issued at two other workplaces – on April 11, 2010, in Littleton MA, and on Sept. 21, 2009, in Cleveland. The final orders serve as evidence the Postal Service was aware of the hazard, OSHA said. The repeat citation in Scarborough charges that the USPS failed to correct the known hazard in all its facilities.
OSHA also issued the USPS a repeat citation on Nov. 15, 2012, and fined the agency $25,000 for safety violations at its Romulus MI facility. Electric tow motors were modified without prior written approval by the manufacturer, OSHA said, exposing employees to the potential to be struck by, crushed or caught in the modified tow.
Modification of the equipment violates OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4), OSHA said. According to OSHA, the modified latches fail to provide a secure connection between the tow-motors and the container. Under these conditions containers weighing hundreds of pounds could become unlatched and roll uncontrollably on the workroom floor.
The Postal Service has appealed the citation and fine, and the APWU has requested party status to participate in the proceedings.
OSHA issued a prior final order for the same unsafe condition on Dec. 21, 2010, in Pittsburgh.