Your Rights after an OSHA Inspection

April 2, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

Any employee has the right to file a complaint with OSHA about hazards and unsafe working conditions at the Post Office. If you file a complaint be sure to inform your local union. There are very specific procedures and timelines that must be followed during the inspection and post-inspection periods. Your local will have the ability to help see that the process is followed as it meant to be.

If a complaint was filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they come and do an inspection in your office, your local union has rights!

These include:

  • Knowing the results of the OSHA inspection, what violations have been identified, and when they will be corrected. The Postal Service must post any citation notices and plans to abate any hazards.
  • The union can ask for a review of any decision to not issue a citation.
  • Filing a formal protest if OSHA gives the USPS too much time to correct a dangerous hazard.
  • Contesting any effort by your employer to delay correcting the hazard.
  • Participating in any informal conference or negotiation between USPS and OSHA.
  • Initiating the local union’s own informal conference with OSHA to discuss the inspection or findings.
  • Participating fully in hearings and any pre-hearing settlement negotiations when an employer contests the citation.

If there is a disagreement with the results of an inspection, it is normally the local union that contests it. If OSHA issues a citation, the law requires that the person initiating the complaint and the local union be notified of the citation. But the local union must request (elect) “party status” in order to participate in the post-inspection processes. If you receive notice of a citation, you must act quickly to elect party status.

Remember, you have the right to file an OSHA complaint and exert your safety and health rights without fear of reprisal. You are protected under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, whistleblower protection laws, USPS policy in the Employee Labor and Relations Manual (ELM) Section 814.1, and the collective bargaining agreement.

As always, if you believe that you have been retaliated against because you filed an OSHA complaint; a PS-1767 Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice; or for any other activity under the safety program, contact your local union representative. Any local who may need additional assistance is encouraged to contact their Regional Coordinator or Regional Safety and Health Representative.

Workers Memorial Day

Workers Memorial Day will be observed by the labor movement on Sunday, April 28. The day is meant to commemorate those who have been killed or injured on the job, and to revitalize the fight for workplace safety.

Each year, thousands of workers die and millions are injured or sickened from dangerous working conditions. In Fiscal Year 2018 alone, 23 USPS employees died on the job (almost double from 2017) and 42,749 injury claims were approved.

Everyone has the right to leave work in one piece. Management has a legal and contractual obligation to provide a safe work environment.

The APWU encourages members and locals to organize an action to recognize the day. Actions could be a moment of silence, a sticker day, sharing information with co-workers, etc. For artwork, flyers and other materials, click here.

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