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The US Postal Service’s massive distribution facility near Des Moines, Iowa, was recently cited by the federal workplace safety watchdog agency for failing to adhere to rules governing the safe handling of forklifts and other heavy equipment.
Unsafe Forklift Operations
According to an OSHA news release, an inspection of the postal service’s network distribution center in Urbandale, Iowa, in October of 2015 found that forklift drivers were handling unstable loads and driving forward with no clear path of visibility.
When investigators arrived, they discovered that postal service employees were being exposed to crushing and struck-by hazards as the result of forklift use at the facility.
One Serious, Two Repeat Violations
OSHA cited the postal service for two repeated and one serious safety violation, which could result in fines of up to $88,000, according to Larry Davidson, OSHA’s area director for Des Moines.
“Each year, thousands of workers are injured — some fatally — while operating forklifts,” Davidson said. “Employers with workers who move materials with forklifts must ensure loads are stable, and pathways are clear to prevent injury.”
OSHA charged that the employer failed to “ensure that operators … were reducing speed to a safe level and using a smooth sweeping motion at all times while negotiating turns to prevent the load from shifting and rocking then tipping off the forks,” resulting in a serious violation of safety rules, according to the citation.
In a repeat violation, the employer failed to “take such actions as appropriate training, instruction, visual observation and other means when the forklift operator had been involved in an accident or near-miss,” the complaint stated. The postal service had been cited for this same violation twice in the past, both times at its facility in Federal Way, Washington.
A second repeat violation charged that the postal service “did not ensure that only stable or safely arranged loads were handled” and that “caution was not exercised when handling off-center loads which cannot be centered,” according to the citations.
The postal service also had been cited for this violation in the past at its Federal Way facility.
The Iowa distribution center is part of the postal service’s national automated mail processing network that handles standard mail, magazines, packages and other mail classes.