Yet Another U.S. Postal Facility Fined, This Time in Chicago Area

OSHA 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.

The agency'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."

The citations against the Bedford Park facility were announced little more than a week following the April 30 announcement of similar citations at a USPS processing and delivery center in Providence, R.I. In that action, OSHA fined USPS $558,000 in connection with eight alleged willful citations after inspectors found four untrained or unqualified workers performing tests on live electrical equipment. The inspection revealed training, PPE, work practices, and warning signs were inadequate, according to OSHA. The Providence inspections of lockout/tagout procedures were conducted by employees who "lacked the knowledge and training to determine if those procedures were performed correctly," the agency said.

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.

USPS 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.

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