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Safety and Health

The Industrial Relations Director is charged with responsibility for the health and safety of all divisions of the Union. Article 14 of the National Agreement requires management to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees covered by the agreement. To achieve this end, the contract provides for the establishment of joint safety and health committees at various levels throughout the Postal Service.... [read more]


Latest Safety and Health News

APWU, Department of Labor, USPS
Settle Nationwide Electrical Safety Complaints

(07/01/13) The union has signed an unprecedented nationwide agreement with the Department of Labor and the Postal Service that settles a series of OSHA complaints initiated by the APWU regarding violations of safe electrical work practices. The agreement marks the OSHA ’s first “enterprise-wide” settlement and follows a four-year campaign by the APWU and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to force postal management to address egregious electrical safety hazards at postal facilities across the country.
[read more]

More Ricin News

(05/31/13) UPDATE: In a Stand-Up Talk to employees on May 30, the USPS said a third suspicious letter — this one addressed to President Obama — has been identified, isolated and sent to a laboratory for testing. In a related development, Bloomberg reported that FBI agents investigating a mid-May ricin incident in Spokane WA said suspicious letters also were sent to the pesident Obama, the Central Intelligence Agency and a U.S. Air Force Base. [read more]

Ricin Update

(05/30/13) UPDATE: According to published reports, two suspicious letters mailed from Shreveport LA last week tested positive for ricin. The New York Times reported May 29 that one of the letters was addressed to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the other was addressed to a Washington DC lobbyist for his gun control campaign. [read more]

Another Ricin Incident
Suspicous Letters to NYC, DC 
Were Postmarked in Shreveport LA

(05/29/13) Two suspicious letters, one to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and another to an address in Washington DC, are being tested for ricin, the Postal Service has notified the APWU. Both letters were postmarked in Shreveport LA on May 20. The Washington DC letter indicated the presence of ricin in preliminary tests; the New York letter is similar, but has not tested positive. [read more]

Another Ricin Incident Hits Spokane

(05/16/13) Preliminary lab tests indicated the presence of ricin on two suspicious letters in Spokane WA, the Postal Service told the APWU on May 15. The letters are being analyzed and tested further for hazardous material, according to a Mandatory Stand-Up Talk management presented to workers. One letter was addressed to the Spokane Post Office; the other was addressed to a federal judge in Spokane. [read more]

Ricin Suspect Released,
New ‘Alleged’ Incident Reported

(04/23/13) The suspect in the ricin case was released on April 23, and the Justice Department is moving to drop charges against him, according to published reports. Contradictory accounts of another incident also were reported on April 23. [read more]

Union ‘Eagerly Awaiting’ Results
Of Follow-Up Tests on Tainted Letters

(04/17/13) The union is eagerly awaiting the results of follow-up tests on letters that indicated the presence of ricin, APWU Eastern Region Coordinator Mike Gallagher said on April 17 after a teleconference with postal officials from the Capitol Metro Operations Area and the Capitol District. Two letters tested positive for the deadly toxin in preliminary tests on April 16. One letter was addressed to President Obama; the other was addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). [read more]

Ricin Update

(04/17/13) Postal officials have assured APWU President Cliff Guffey that they will update union officials today, April 17, about incidents involving mail that tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison, in preliminary tests on April 16. The APWU complained that union officials and postal workers learned of the incident through media reports and that information was not provided to the union until many hours later. [read more]

APWU Learns of Ricin Incident
Through Media Reports
Union to Pursue Matter Vigorously

(04/17/13) APWU officers learned through the news media on April 16 that a letter that may have been contaminated with a deadly poison had been found in the mail. Preliminary tests performed at the Maryland mail facility where the letter was found were positive for ricin, according to published reports. Additional tests will be performed at an FBI laboratory, with results expected within 24-48 hours. [read more]

OSHA Cites Maine, Michigan Facilities
For Unsafe Working Conditions

(03/08/13) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a citation to the Postal Service for unsafe working conditions at its Scarborough ME facility and fined the agency $27,500 on Feb. 1. The Postal Service failed to mark aisles in work areas where mechanical handling equipment such as forklifts and tow-motors routinely travel, in violation of OSHA Standard 29 CPR 1910.176(a), OSHA charged. [read more]

Union, Management Reach Agreement
On Locally Acquired Equipment Policy

(02/26/13) In response to demands by the APWU — and approximately a year of negotiations — the Postal Service issued new guidelines on Jan. 29, 2013, governing the procurement of postal equipment by managers at the local level. The APWU pursued the issue at the National Joint Labor Management Safety and Health Committee after safety concerns arose following the purchase of equipment by a local manager in Seattle. After the manager had a “tabbing system” installed, workers discovered that the equipment could not be “locked out;” a preventive maintenance schedule had not been established; the equipment had not been subject to a safety inspection prior to acceptance, and employees had not been trained to properly use the equipment. [read more]

OSHA Cites USPS for
Unsafe Working Conditions

(02/11/13) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the USPS for unsafe working conditions following the death of mechanic Steny Wing Hoi Yu, who died July 27 from injuries he sustained while working at the Detroit NDC. [read more]

OSHA: Employers
Must Post Summaries
Of Injuries, Illnesses

(02/05/13) OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has reminded employers, including the Postal Service, of their obligation to post annual summaries of injuries and illnesses sustained by workers at their facilities, reports Gary Kloepfer, the union’s safety and health officer. [read more]

Union, Management
Clarify Diabetes Policy

(01/28/13) The Joint Labor Management Safety and Health Committee (JLMSHC) has agreed that the Postal Service must accommodate diabetic employees, including, if necessary, with “a private area to test blood-sugar levels or to take insulin.” [read more]

OSHA Cites USPS
For Safety Violations in RI

(01/16/13) The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the USPS for safety violations at its Providence, RI operation including three violations concerning the organization’s failure to protect employees from multiple potential hazards from using powered industrial trucks. [read more]

Arbitrator Sustains Union’s Safety & Health Grievance

(12/05/12) In a ruling issued Dec. 3, Arbitrator Shyam Das sustained the union’s position that Article 14 of the National Agreement, Safety and Health, is “a joint process for addressing safety and ergonomic issues” and that “charging the union for information it reasonably requests in good faith to fulfill its joint role and obligations … is not consistent with the overall structure and tenor of Article 14.” He ordered the Postal Service “to provide information reasonably requested by the union in good faith to fulfill its role and obligations under Article 14 … without exacting payment.” [read more]

Leather Gloves Needed
For Employees Working with Fiber Optic Cables

(11/19/12) A hazard assessment has revealed that employees who work with fiber optic cables are subject to cuts to their hands and fingers from tiny glass fragments, Maintenance Craft Director Steve Raymer has reported. The assessment was conducted after workers reported injuries when working with the cables.

To abate the hazard, employees who work with fiber optic cables should be issued leather gloves, the national-level Joint Labor-Management Safety Committee concluded. The committee made the decision at a meeting on Nov. 7. Maintenance Craft employees should request leather gloves when they are assigned to work with the cables if the gloves are not issued by local management. [read more]

OSHA Cites Tucson Postal Facility for
Exposing Workers to Potential Injuries
Imposes $70,000 Fine

(10/02/12) The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the Cherrybell Stravenue Processing and Distribution Center in Tucson Sept. 25 for a willful safety violation for the improper operation of a powered industrial truck. The OSHA investigation was prompted by a complaint that an untrained, uncertified supervisor had operated a powered industrial truck during an evening shift when two of three certified truck operators did not report for their shift. The truck, which is used to move large quantities of mail, requires training and certification to operate. [read more]

APWU, OSHA Investigate
Employee Death At Detroit NDC

(07/31/12) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the APWU are investigating the death of APWU member Steny Wing Hoi Yu, who died July 27 from injuries sustained in work-related accident at the Detroit NDC on July 23. [read more]

Safety & Health Web Articles Archive

Other Safety and Health Issues

Stand-Up Talks
(Updated 12/15/11/07)

This is a link to Postal Service safety-related stand up talks for which the national union has been officially notified. Safety talks that are given by management that are not listed here have not been provided to the national union.

Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process - ERRP
(Updated 04/06/06)

The Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process was started in the summer of 2003 following the signing of an MOU between the USPS, APWU, OSHA and the NPMHU. The agreement provides an outline and goals of the process and defines the obligation and responsibilities of the parties to reduce the number of injuries and ergonomic-related hazards.

Voluntary Protection Programs - VPP
(Updated 09/10/07)

OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) is intended to promote effective worksite-based safety and health. In the VPP, management, labor and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented a comprehensive safety and health management system.

Bio Detection Systems - BDS

In the wake of the Anthrax crisis of 2001, the Postal Service has begun installing Bio-Detection Equipment in a number of plants throughout the country. The BDS basically works by collecting a continuous air sample on a specific piece of mail processing equipment. The machine performs a rapid DNA test of the collected sample and sends the test results electronically to Postal officials.

Ventilation Filtration Systems - VFS

Following the Anthrax attacks of 2001, it was determined that the Anthrax spores became "aerosolized" as they passed through specific "pinch points" on mail processing equipment. The Ventilation Filtration System (VFS) is designed to collect and contain these and other potentially hazardous airborne particulates that may be released during the automated processing of mail.

Homeland Security Threat Advisory Codes

The current terrorist threat level as determined by the Department of Homeland Security, and an explanation of what the codes mean.

External Links

This is a list of safety and health related links on the web.

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