The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
Three Tennessee postal facilities have been fined for violations by the U.S. Department of Labor under allegations that the facilities forced employees to work despite exposure to a number of serious safety and health hazards.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has proposed $350,136 worth of penalties against the Columbia Post Office, the Music City Annex in Nashville, and the Knoxville Processing and Distribution Center.
OSHA says inspections of the three facilities brought to light five repeat violations, four serious violations, and four other-than-serious violations.
The specific violations fined by OSHA include the following:
• A mail processing machine was missing a guard, leaving employees exposed to an electric motor and other energized parts.
• Fixed electrical wiring was replaced with flexible cords and power strips while employees were exposed to overloaded circuits.
• Employees were not provided with required training and evaluations to operate a powered industrial truck.
• Employees were not wearing seatbelts while operating forklifts on the loading dock, opening up the possibility of employees being crushed if the forklift were to tip over.
• Forklifts did not have working strobe lights or backup alarms; other forklifts needing repairs were still being used.
• Sewers were backed up in some restroom facilities, causing raw sewage to be left on restroom floors and in working areas
OSHA also spoke out against the U.S. Postal Service’s safety incentive program that rewards workers who are accident-free for a certain length of time. According to OSHA, these programs do not create a safer environment but actually discourage employees from reporting those 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. “These violations are preventable and continuing to operate in this manner, while ignore safety requirements, is a recipe for disaster.”
The USPS has appealed these findings before an independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.