APWU: Months before post office tragedy, employees complained about parking lot safety

kearny_copsBy Caitlin Mota – April 22, 2016
KEARNY — Months before a Jersey City woman was fatally struck by a van at the post office where she worked, employee representatives had asked that safety improvements be made to the facility’s parking lot.

Today marks one month since 54-year-old Nadia Assad died after being struck by a fellow employee at the Dominick V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center.

Darren Smith, the director for the American Postal Workers Union for DVD P&DC in Kearny, said “upgrades” were made last year to the parking lot, which included changing the traffic flow from one-way to both directions.

“I think it makes it more dangerous because you have people coming out on both sides now,” Smith said, adding several employees have made similar complaints.

In a Nov. 9 request, Smith — who is a member of the facility’s safety committee — requested that stop signs and speed limit signs be posted and that traffic flow only in one direction. He said management “never addressed” the union’s complaints.

There have been 13 crashes reported in the parking lot of the facility dating back to 2010, according to Kearny police records, a number that Smith said is “absolutely (significant). … It is a high number.”

Police said Assad was walking to the Newark-Jersey City Turnpike building on March 22 to start her shift when she was hit by a Nissan NV at 5:42 a.m. She was transported to University Hospital in Newark, where she died shortly after 9 a.m.

Assad worked as a clerk processing mail for the post office for about 10 years. Smith said on Jan. 23, she had moved from a temporary postal support employee to a career employee, which offered her benefits and full-time hours.

George Flood, a spokesman for the United State Postal Service, said public comment is limited because of the ongoing investigation, but stressed safety is a top priority for the organization.

“Let me stress that the safety of our employees remains a core value of the U.S. Postal Service,” Flood said. “We have an extensive and professional safety program at all our facilities, which incorporates employees at every level.”

Smith said he reviewed video surveillance that showed the crash and noted that two light bulbs above the crash scene where Assad was struck and a lamp pointing toward that direction were not working. He said those lights are still not working. Assad’s best friend also works at the facility, Smith said, and every day she is forced to walk passed the now barricaded section of the parking lot where her friend died.

A request for a copy of the accident report from Kearny was denied because it is part of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s pending investigation, Kearny officials said. The name of the driver of the Nissan NV has not been released and not no charges have been filed.

Ultimately, Smith said he hopes to see pedestrian walkways added to the parking lot, along with the signage he requested, hoping employees do not have to “endure another tragic day like March 22, 2016.”

Source: Months before post office tragedy, employees complained about parking lot safety: union rep | NJ.com

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