Blame it on the Rain: USPS Fails to Meet Safety Goals
(This article first appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine)
According to an analysis by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the Postal Service failed to meet its own safety goals in Fiscal Year 2014.
USPS evaluates its progress based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Illness and Injury frequency rate (OSHA I&I Rate), which represents the annual number of recordable injuries and illnesses per 100 employees. In FY 2014, the Postal Service’s OSHA I&I rate was 6.32, which means it failed to meet the FY 2014 target of 5.5 – and actually increased 12 percent from FY 2013. It’s the worst rate since FY 2010.
In the July 7 report, the Postal Service blamed the bad numbers on “severe winter weather,” and said the lion’s share of injuries were due to motor vehicle collisions with stationary objects.
USPS also attributed the increase to newer employees who are less familiar with safety practices, as well as additional stress from sorting and delivering a greater volume of packages.
In 2014, at least 10 postal workers lost their lives on the job and tens of thousands more were sickened or injured.
At least four letter carriers suffered fatal injuries in motor vehicle collisions and falls.
On Sept. 25, 2014, Ernesto (Tito) Jordan, a Maintenance employee for 25 years, was performing window washing duties at the Mid-Town Station in New York City, when he fell from his scissor lift. His injuries were fatal and he was laid to rest on Oct. 3.Postal worker Samuel Macasieb lost his life last August after he lay dying for nearly an hour on the floor of his Bay Area processing plant.
It’s unclear how Macasieb, 59, was injured on Aug. 8, 2014, but his colleagues found him on his back, barely conscious, with blood coming from his mouth and ears. But according to USPS protocols in place at the time, employees didn’t have authority to call 911. Following the rules, Macasieb’s co-workers contacted several supervisors and managers, who alerted the only entity with authority to call 911: postal police.
By the time paramedics arrived, Macasieb had been incapacitated for 53 minutes. According to the Alameda County Coroner’s Office, Macasieb’s cause of death was a blunt injury to the head.
Following APWU inquiries, USPS management changed the 911 policy.
Safety & Health
A Bird’s Eye View
In 2013, the USPS reported 33,141 illnesses and injuries to OSHA.
In 2014, the USPS reported 36,241 illnesses and injuries.
15 fatalities were
reported in 2013.
10 fatalities were
reported in 2014.
OSHA Slams Postal Service with Five Citations, $16,000 in Fines
After an onsite inspection, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) slammed the Postal Service with five citations for violating safety standards at a post office located in Kent, WA, on July 1. OSHA also imposed a total of $16,000 in fines.
Four of the violations were labeled “serious:”
- A tool rest on a bench grinder was improperly adjusted or missing, resulting in a proposed $4,000 fine.
- Different types of equipment, including a daisy chain, power strip, locatable power tap to power fluorescent lights and a bench grinder, were either improperly installed and/or not being properly used, resulting in a proposed fine of $3,000.
- Outside power outlets were missing weather-proof covers and were no longer suitable for wet locations, resulting in a proposed $4,000 fine.
- The main room of the postal facility had asbestos-ridden tiles that were protected, but no longer sealed and waxed, resulting in a proposed fine of $5,000.
In addition, the Postal Service received an “other than serious” violation for failing to label all secondary storage containers. In the maintenance and janitorial room, there was a spray bottle with red liquid in it, but the contents were not labeled. No fine was proposed for the violation.
The Postal Service is obligated to comply with OSHA regulations listed in 29 CFR 1910. For more info, go to www.osha.gov.