US Postal Service failed to prevent blocked, obstructed exits, other safety violations at Lehigh Valley facility
BETHLEHEM, PA – A federal workplace safety inspection of a U.S. Postal Service location in Hanover Township found employees exposed to potentially serious and fatal injuries in the event of an emergency.
Responding to a complaint, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation at the USPS’s Lehigh Valley Processing and Distribution Center. OSHA determined the facility failed to keep exit routes free and unobstructed at two of the sorting hub’s loading dock areas and cited the USPS with one willful violation.
Investigators also found portable fire extinguishers were not readily accessible and there was inadequate workspace in front of the electrical equipment. OSHA issued two repeat citations related to these workplace violations, as the agency cited the location for the same hazards in Raleigh, North Carolina and Los Angeles, California. In addition, the agency cited the USPS with two serious violations for additional safety hazards.
The facility faces $236,783 in proposed penalties for the violations.
“Exit routes are vital for safe evacuations should a workplace emergency occur. Employers who fail to keep them clear and unobstructed put their workers at risk of injuries or worse,” said OSHA Area Director Jean Kulp in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “The most effective ways to prevent these hazards are to routinely evaluate workspaces and immediately remove materials blocking exits.”
The USPS 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.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.