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OSHA proposes $430,000 in fines against U.S. Postal Service for electrical hazards at Scarborough, Maine, mail processing facility (6/29)

June 29, 2010
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OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service for alleged willful and repeat violations of safety standards following an inspection at the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough, Maine, according to an agency press release. The Postal Service faces a total of $430,000 in fines, chiefly for exposing workers to electrical hazards.

"These citations and sizable fines reflect the Postal Service's failure to equip its workers with the necessary knowledge and skills to safely work with live electrical parts," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "The Postal Service knew that proper and effective training was needed for the safety of its workers but did not provide it."

OSHA's inspection, which began Dec. 29, 2009, in response to a complaint from workers at the Scarborough facility, found employees working with or near live electrical equipment without adequate training or qualifications, personal protective equipment, safety-related work practices and warning signs.

These conditions exposed the workers to electric shock, arc flashes and arc blasts and resulted in OSHA issuing six willful citations, with $420,000 in proposed fines, to the Postal Service. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

In addition, OSHA found that access to electrical panels was blocked in several instances by materials being stored adjacent to them. This situation resulted in one repeat citation, with a $10,000 fine, since the Postal Service had been cited in November 2007 for the same type of hazard at a Toledo, Ohio, postal facility.

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 Augusta Area Office; telephone 207-626-9160. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-6742.

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