OSHA proposes fines of $144,000 for USPS facility in Champaign, Ill.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The U.S. Postal Service facility in Champaign has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for eight safety violations carrying proposed fines of $144,000. The citations are the result of a complaint inspection in June that found a lack of both energy control procedures and fall protection at the facility.

“The Postal Service failed to implement necessary safety procedures and to ensure the workers in the Champaign facility were trained to lockout machinery to prevent injury,” said Tom Bielema, director of OSHA’s Peoria Area Office. “All employers are responsible for recognizing hazards in their facilities and addressing them by following OSHA standards.”

OSHA’s inspection found that the workers, who scanned mail and placed it on a conveyor to be dumped into the appropriate bag or container, had been instructed to push an e-stop before clearing jams. The workers are not trained or authorized to lockout equipment to prevent the unintentional operation of the conveyor while clearing jams, which may expose them to laceration and amputation hazards. Operators may occasionally remove a panel, access an overhead conveyor or use a shepherd’s hook to clear the jam.

Four repeat safety violations were cited, including failing to conduct periodic inspections of all energy control procedures and ensure energy devices were operated in a manner to isolate the equipment from the energy source and ensure that a lockout or tagout device was affixed to each device by authorized employees. Other violations included failing to protect workers from falls while clearing jams on an overhead conveyor and ensure that risers were uniform in height on all stairways.

A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 at Postal Service facilities in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Greensboro, N.C., Lewistown, Mont.; and Elgin, S.C.

Three serious violations involve lack of appropriate guarding on conveyors to prevent packages from falling off the conveyor, failing to ensure that employees were adequately trained in the purpose and use of energy control procedures and a lack of stair railings on each open side of a stairway.

A violation is noted as serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

To view the current citations, visit http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/US_Postal_Service_917645_0107_14.pdf*.

One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to ensure that the certification of the periodic inspection of energy control procedures included the name of the employees included in the inspection. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The Postal Service employs about 434,000 personnel nationwide and 294 at the Postal Service facility in Champaign.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Peoria Area Office at 309-589-7033.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.