NASHVILLE, TN – The U.S. Department of Labor has found the U.S. Postal Service exposed workers to struck-by, electrical, crushing, fire and other health hazards at facilities in Columbia, Knoxville and Nashville.
As a result of three inspections, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the mail carrier for five repeat, four serious and four other-than-serious violations with $350,136 in proposed penalties to address the safety and health hazards.
Specifically, OSHA found the following unsafe conditions:
- A missing guard/cover on a mail processing machine exposed workers to an energized electric motor and other energized parts.
- Flexible cords and power strips used in place of fixed electrical wiring, and overloaded circuits exposed workers to electrical hazards.
- Employees without required training and evaluation needed to operate a powered industrial truck.
- Employees not wearing seatbelts as they operated forklifts on the loading dock, which exposed them to crushed-by hazards if the forklift tipped over.
- Forklifts lacked working strobe lights and back up alarms, while other forklifts needing repairs remained in service.
- Backed up sewers left raw sewage on restroom floors and in work areas.
OSHA also issued a written notice to the U.S. Postal Service for having a safety incentive program that awards workers who are accident-free, as these programs can discourage workers from reporting accidents and injuries.
“The U.S. Postal Service’s high operational tempo is not a reason to bypass or ignore long-established safety standards. If anything, it’s a reason to place greater emphasis on ensuring its workers are protected from recognized hazards and have every opportunity to avoid potential life-altering injuries,” said OSHA Area Director William Cochran in Nashville, Tennessee. “These violations are preventable and continuing to operate in this manner, while ignoring safety requirements, is a recipe for disaster.”
The three facilities investigated were the Knoxville Processing and Distribution Center, the Music City Annex in Nashville and the Columbia Post Office.
The employer has contested the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.