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Release Number: 10-822-BOS/BOS 2010-272
Mon., June 28, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
E-mail: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $430,000 in fines against US Postal Service
for electrical hazards at Scarborough, Maine, mail processing facility

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration 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. 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