National Postal Safety Settlement Reached

The agreement followed negotiations after inspections at 42 facilities in 2009-10 found violations of OSHA electrical standards.

OSHA, the U.S. Postal Service, and the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to terms of a settlement that the safety agency states will improve safety in all postal facilities nationwide. This grew out of negotiations stemming from inspections at 42 USPS sites in 2009 and 2010 that found violations of OSHA standards on electrical work practices. After USPS contested the citations, OSHA sought USPS-wide relief before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

"As a large employer with a substantial number of affected employees throughout many different types of facilities, the U.S. Postal Service faced many challenges in improving their electrical safe-work program. In entering this agreement, OSHA recognizes the Postal Service’s commitment and dedication to worker safety," Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, said in a July 1 news release.

The settlement covers every Postal Service facility in the country, including processing and distribution centers and post offices. The service has updated its written policies and procedures on electrical work, prohibiting workers from working on electrically energized equipment except for a defined set of tasks that can be done only while equipment is energized, such as troubleshooting and testing. USPS has agreed to assign a trained electrical work plan coordinator at each facility and to provide and require the use of electrically protective gloves and full-body arc flash protection for energized work.

"Employee safety has always been a top priority for the Postal Service," said Jeffrey Williamson, USPS chief human resources officer and executive vice president. "We are happy to have resolved this issue amicably and in the best interests of the safety of our employees."

USPS will retrain employees on the OSHA requirements and will audit the implementation of the electrical safe-work program at all maintenance-capable facilities and then report the results in detail to OSHA quarterly during the two-year term of the agreement.

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