Wednesday, June 9, 2010

OSHA Fines Postal Service Nearly $300,000

The U.S. Postal Service's General Mail Facility in Pittsburgh has been cited for workplace safety violations related to electrical hazards. Robert Szymanski, the director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Pittsburgh office, says the inspection and investigation began after a complaint was filed in October by an employee alleging the hazards.
Inspectors cited the Postal Service with 4 "willful" violations carrying a penalty of $265,000; one repeat violation with a fine of $25,000; and, 2 serious violations with a penalty of $9,500.
Szymanski says the most significant are the willful violations..."this is committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health."
The OSHA report said the willful violations include inadequate training for employees exposed to electrical hazards, failure to provide electrical protective equipment to safeguard employees from arc-flash hazards and electrical current, and failure to use appropriate safety signs and symbols to warn employees.
The serious violations included the use of an unapproved junction box in a wet location and failure to provide insulated tools. The repeat violation was due to similar incidents at other postal facilities in other cities.
The Postal Service has 15 business days to comply, meet with OSHA officials or contest the findings.
Symanski says remedying a problem doesn't mean a lower fine...."in theory, there's no penalty reduction for fixing something that shouldn't have existed."
But he says sometimes OSHA does a modest reduction of the penalty to avoid legal costs if the finding is contested.

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