By Matt Kelley – March 16, 2015
A post office in central Iowa is facing a sizeable fine for alleged safety violations, according to Scott Allen, spokesman for the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
“OSHA did issue citations to the Des Moines Main Post Office for one repeat and two serious safety violations involving standards for power industrial vehicles and forklifts,” Allen says. “They were fined $49,500.”
Allen explains why they investigated the facility. “This inspection was actually prompted by an employee complaint stating that power industrial vehicles were being operated with broken safety devices, creating unsafe conditions for the operators and other workers in the area,” Allen says. The Postal Service has a responsibility to make sure equipment is maintained in good working order, Allen says, as hundreds of workers nationwide are hurt every year when they’re hit by forklifts.
There were no injuries reported at the Des Moines facility. “The investigation found at least one of the forklifts and two tugs were operating with installed flashing lights that basically were not operating properly,” Allen says. “That’s causing a safety hazard for everyone in the area.” The fines have just been issued and the Postal Service has 15 days to contest the fine or request a hearing, though Allen says it’s not just about the money.
“The most important thing is to insure the workers in the area of these forklifts are safe,” Allen says. “They need to correct the issues and move forward from there.” OSHA cited the same postal facility for the non-functioning lights violation in 2010. OSHA issues repeat violations when an employer has been previously cited for the same or a similar violation in the past five years. The two serious violations were cited for failing to make repairs on a forklift and to remove it from service until it was fully functioning.