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Region 10 News Release: 10-820-SEA (10-179)
June 21, 2010
Contact: Jeannine Lupton
Phone: 206-553-7620

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $77,500 in fines against US Postal
Service for electrical hazards at Portland, Ore., mail processing facility

SEATTLE - 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 Portland, Ore., Processing and Distribution Center, located at 715 N.W. Hoyt St. An OSHA inspection conducted in response to employee complaints resulted in a total of $77,500 in fines for electrical hazards and a failure to adequately lock out machines' power sources to prevent unexpected startups.

"The Postal Service disregarded basic electrical safety practices, which left workers at this facility exposed to unnecessary risk of serious injury," said Richard S. Terrill, OSHA regional administrator in Seattle.

OSHA's inspection found workers were performing tests on live electrical equipment and doing so without adequate personal protective equipment, safety-related work practices and warning signs, as well as working on equipment that had not first been de-energized.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the Postal Service one willful citation with a proposed fine of $70,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

In addition, two serious citations with $7,500 in fines have been issued for failure to adequately lock out machines' power sources to prevent unexpected startup during servicing and for inadequate insulation on electric cables. 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 di