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Region 1 News Release: 10-554-BOS / BOS 2010-186
April 30, 2010
Contact: John Chavez Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2075 617-565-2074
Email: chavez.john@dol.gov fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $558,000 in fines to US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Providence, RI, mail processing facility

PROVIDENCE, R.I. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the U.S. Postal Service for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at the Providence Processing and Delivery Center, 24 Corliss St. in Providence. The Postal Service faces a total of $558,000 in fines, chiefly for electrical and lockout/tagout of energy start-up hazards, following an OSHA inspection conducted in response to employee complaints.

"These sizable fines reflect the severity and ongoing nature of these hazards," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and knowingly put its workers in harm's way."

OSHA's inspection found untrained or unqualified workers were performing tests on live electrical equipment, and doing so without adequate training, personal protective equipment, safety-related work practices and warning signs, as well as working on equipment that had not first been de-energized. In addition, inspections of hazardous energy control procedures were conducted by employees who lacked the knowledge and training to determine if those procedures were performed correctly.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the Postal Service eight willful citations, with $530,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"The Postal Service exposed workers at the Providence facility to the serious and potentially fatal hazards of shock, electrocution and arc-flash. That is unacceptable and needlessly placed the health of these workers at risk," said Michaels.

In addition, four serious citations, with $28,000 in fines, have been issued for failure to develop procedures and provide training for locking out machines' power sources to prevent their unexpected startup during servicing and other related hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which an employer knew or should have known.

The Postal Service has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Providence Area Office; telephone 401-528-4667. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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