Settlement aims to improve electrical safety at USPS facilities
The agreement stemmed from inspections at 42 Postal Service sites in 2009 and 2010 that identified violations of OSHA standards on electrical work practices. OSHA sought enterprisewide relief before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission after the USPS contested the citations.
"As a large employer, with a substantial number of affected employees throughout many different types of facilities, the U.S. Postal Service faced many challenges in improving their electrical safe-work program," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "In entering this agreement, OSHA recognizes the Postal Service's commitment and dedication to worker safety."
Workers in all Postal Service facilities throughout the country will be prohibited from working on electrically energized equipment except for a defined set of tasks that can only be performed while equipment is energized, such as troubleshooting and testing. Also, the USPS will provide and require the use of electrically protective gloves and full body arc flash protection for energized work, including voltage testing. A trained electrical work plan coordinator will be assigned at each facility by the USPS.
USPS has also agreed to audit the implementation of the electrical safe-work program at all maintenance-capable facilities and provide OSHA with quarterly reports during the two-year agreement term. The USPS will also retrain all employees performing electrical work to comply with OSHA requirements for electrical work. Supervisors and affected employees will receive additional training on electrical safe-work practices.
Under the settlement, the Postal Service will pay $100,000 at signing and a suspended payment of $3 million, pending full abatement of the hazards.
"Employee safety has always been a top priority for the Postal Service," said Jeffrey Williamson, USPS chief human resources officer and executive vice president. "We are happy to have resolved this issue amicably and in the best interests of the safety of our employees."
By Nancy Grover
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August 19, 2013
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