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2 USPS centers fined for safety violations

Dec. 30, 2010 at 1:39 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Two U.S. Postal Service centers were fined $318,000 for safety violations, a U.S. agency responsible for issuing and enforcing workplace safety standards said.

Processing and distribution centers in Shrewsbury, Mass., and Duluth Ga., were fined for repeat violations of safety rules involving electrical circuits and equipment, the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration said.

The Shrewsbury center, employing about 540 people, faces a fine of $238,000. The Duluth center, employing about 500, faces an $80,000 fine, OSHA said.

The Postal Service has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or appeal to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A Postal Service spokesman said postal officials would examine their options.

The fines are the latest in a string of citations OSHA has issued this year to about 17 postal processing and distribution centers nationwide, the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass., reported.

All the fines -- ranging from $46,200 for a facility in Des Moines, Iowa, to $558,000 for a Providence, R.I., facility -- are for similar electrical work safety violations that in many cases were prompted by employee complaints, the newspaper said.

OSHA can fine the Postal Service because the service stopped being a federal agency in 1971 and is instead an "independent establishment of the executive branch" of the U.S. government. Federal agencies can be cited but not fined.

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