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APWU Web News Articles

Workers Want Answers in the Wake of Five Deaths

Web News Article #: 
058-2016

03/11/2016 - Over the past 14 months, five workers at Michigan’s Metroplex Processing and Distribution Center have died, and 480-481 Area Local President Roscoe Woods is demanding answers.

The facility, located in Pontiac, sits on the site of a toxic former car manufacturing plant. A gas-venting system was installed in mail processing center to stop the buildup of methane.

According to a Feb. 22 alert issued by the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG), a methane detection system at the facility has not been functioning properly since March 2015. Multiple attempts at repairs have been unsuccessful.

While the OIG does not correlate the workers’ deaths with the malfunctioning methane detection system, it urges management to act immediately to fix it. Methane gas is odorless and colorless. Inhaling too much can result in medical complications. Methane is highly flammable and can cause explosions when it builds up in enclosed spaces.

Woods is concerned about how many workers have died on the job in such a short period of time, despite the fact that the deaths were ruled “natural.” On Jan. 15, a third-party vendor deemed methane levels at the P&DC safe.

”I’m not going to say the job killed them, but I certainly have enough concerns that I wanted somebody to look into the overall work environment,” he told WXYZ Detroit. The most recent death occurred in October 2015 and took the life of a man in his 50s.