When fed agencies collide: OSHA v. USPS (2/11)
February 11, 2011
OSHA added $70,000 to the U.S. Postal Service’s “debit” column for a willful safety violation -- on the same day the USPS announced a whopping first quarter net loss of $329 million for this fiscal year.
The violation was earned by a USPS Nashville location which allowed workers to use damaged and unrepaired dock levelers even after an employee was seriously injured while using one.
"The Postal Service was made aware of the hazards related to its use of dock levelers that should have been removed from service," said William Cochran, director of OSHA's Nashville Area Office.
A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
According to an OSHA press release, the worker was lifting a damaged steel-hinged plate that provides a bridge between the dock and a truck trailer. The strap that the employee was using to lift the plate slipped off the steel flap, which caused the employee to lose balance and fall backwards, striking the concrete floor.
The $70,000 proposed penalty adds to the USPS’ already considerable financial troubles, which have not beehn alleviated by significant cost reductions and efforts to grow revenue. A statement released by the USPS says that the recession caused a “precipitous volume decline.” While economic indicators suggest that the worst is over, total mail volume remains well below its 2006 peak.
The USPS is counting on several new marketing initiatives to help it increase revenue, and on legislative changes that would extend its borrowing power.
“The Postal Service continues to seek changes in the law to enable a more flexible and sustainable business model,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. “We are eager to work with Congress and the Administration to resolve these issues prior to the end of the fiscal year.”