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Release Number: 10-945-NAT
July 6, 2010
Contact: Elizabeth Alexander     Diana Petterson
Phone: 202-693-4675         202-693-1898

US Department of Labor files worker safety complaint against USPS
Complaint requests enterprise-wide remedy, a 1st

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Labor's solicitor today filed a complaint against the U.S. Postal Service for electrical work safety violations. The complaint, which asks the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order USPS to correct electrical violations at 350 facilities, marks the first time the department has sought enterprise-wide relief as a remedy.

The request for enterprise-wide relief is based upon the discovery of numerous, similar electrical work safety violations in the course of investigations conducted by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration of USPS mail processing and distribution facilities across the country. These violations increase the risk of injury from electrical shock, including electrocution. While today's complaint arises from violations discovered in the Providence, R.I., facility, the requested remedy would apply to all 350 USPS processing and distribution centers, all of which contain similar equipment.

"When the same safety violation is discovered in multiple locations of an organization, we need an enterprise-wide remedy to protect workers from the hazard," said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. "The Department of Labor will seek other opportunities to utilize this remedy."

OSHA's inspections have revealed numerous violations of similar worker safety standards at USPS facilities throughout the nation. The complaint alleges that USPS's actions demonstrate an enterprise-wide policy that resulted in ongoing systemic electrical work safety violations. USPS failed to adequately train workers in recognizing electrical hazards and how to work safely around such hazards, and did not provide workers with the appropriate tools and personal protective equipment to avoid injury or death while working around and on electrical equipment. The complaint also seeks $558,000 for the eight willful and four serious violations discovered in Rhode Island.

"Even though it was aware of the hazards, USPS failed to institute the necessary measures to protect its workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The complaint filed today seeks to put a stop to this irresponsible behavior."

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, audio tape 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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