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USPS settlement with OSHA illustrates how safety reform can work

The United States Postal Service (USPS) was targeted for dozens of inspections by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in both 2009 and 2010. Inspections at 42 separate USPS worksites revealed a number of safety hazards and safety standards violations in regards to electrical work. Given the potential for work-related injuries stemming from these electrical hazards, OSHA insisted that the USPS reform its approach to electrical work and fix every related hazard.

The USPS and OSHA recently hammered out a settlement in regards to these electrical work and electrical safety practices violations. As part of the settlement, USPS will spend millions both to properly train workers in electrical safety practices and to overhaul all of its facilities that contain any sort of electrical hazard.

In addition, the American Postal Workers Union and OSHA will meet with USPS representatives every three months until the organization is fully compliant with current safety standards. USPS will be overhauling its policies and practices in regards to electrical work in anticipation of these meetings and in order to quickly and efficiently reach an acceptable level of compliance.

This settlement clearly illustrates how effective a partnership between OSHA and an employer found in violation of safety standards can be. Rather than push safety issues under the rug and hope that they are never again discovered, employers found in violation of safety standards can work to build an agreement that is effective and benefits both employees and business generally. Hopefully employers can learn from the example recently set by USPS.

Source: FierceGovernment, “USPS to overhaul electrical work safety policies after OSHA settlement agreement,” Ryan McDermott, July 3, 2013

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