The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration handed down $430,000 in fines to the U.S. Postal Service for exposing workers to electrical hazards at the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough.


“The postal service knew that proper and effective training was needed for the safety of its workers but did not provide it,” said David Michaels, OSHA’s assistant secretary of labor, in a news release.

After complaints from workers, OSHA began its inspection on Dec. 29, 2009. Inspectors found postal service employees near live electrical equipment without proper training or qualifications, protective equipment and signage.

Workers were exposed to electrical explosions and electric shock, but no injuries stemming from this have been reported, according to Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Labor in Boston.

The inspection resulted in six “willful citations,” the most serious level of offenses and defined by OSHA as violations committed “with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.”

The citations were delivered to the postal service on Friday, and it has 15 business days to make necessary changes.

“The postal service places the safety and well being of its employees as a top priority,” said Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the northern New England district of the U.S. Postal Service.

Rizzo cited that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the Postal Service twice as safe as other delivery organizations and is continually recognized for its safe driving.

“Regardless, one accident, or the potential for one accident – on the road, in a post office or a mail processing plant – is one too many,” Rizzo said. “We will review OSHA’s concerns and make necessary adjustments to continue to ensure a safe working environment for our employees.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers take responsibility for the health and safety of their workers while on the job. OSHA works to assure these safe conditions are met by setting and enforcing workplace standards.