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OSHA Cites USPS for Safety Violations in RI

APWU Web News Article 006-2013, Jan. 16, 2013

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. OSHA also admonished the USPS for two safety violations that were not specifically covered under OSHA regulations. The penalties proposed in the citations total $6,630.

According to OSHA’s informal settlement agreement, the USPS failed to meet OSHA standards when it did not ensure that warning and danger labels were legible on powered industrial trucks. Powered industrial trucks were also left unattended whereby the load engaging means were not fully loaded, controls were not neutralized, power was not shut off, and brakes were not set. Also, forklift operators did not have the load and load engaging means tilted back while traveling.

OSHA also discovered that the Automated Package Processing System (APPS) is currently configured in a way that employees could extend an arm or leg into the hazard zone without triggering a shutdown of the system. Additionally, OSHA observed that the various mail-handling carts used at the facility had defective components.

Since no specific OSHA standards applied to the hazards related to the APPS and mail-handling carts, no citation was issued. OSHA suggested the USPS install additional sensors to the pallet unloader subsystem and/or install an interlocked gate at the loading station to address the APPS safety hazard. OSHA stated that USPS should conduct inspections on all component parts of mail-handling carts when they arrive at the facility; conduct refresher training to mail handlers; and establish and implement a method to track and notify sending facilities of requirement to remove damaged carts from service.

The Postal Service intends to challenge OSHA’s decision regarding the APPS violation. The APWU national office encourages locals to share OSHA’s recommendations with sites in their regions that have an APPS machine.

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