America Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
Broward County Area, Local 1201
Jeff Riddell, President
Address:      6500 W. Sunrise Blvd
                     Plantation, Florida 33313
Phone:         (954) 792-2161
Fax:              (954) 792-2162
Email:           apwu1201@bellsouth.net
Next Meeting:
General - Oct. 20, 2013 9:30 am
Stewards - Oct. 9, 2013 7:00 pm
Address:      6500 W. Sunrise Blvd
                     Plantation, Florida 33313
Phone:         (954) 792-2161
Fax:              (954) 792-2162
Email:           apwu1201@bellsouth.net
Next Meeting:
General - Oct. 20, 2013 9:30 am
Stewards - Oct. 9, 2013 7:00 pm
  Unity    Commitment    Strength


You may recognize the title of this article as what passes for one of many USPS safety programs, but it should serve as a warning to every employee that YOU need to pay attention and take care to ensure your own safety, and not to trust or rely on management to provide you with a safe and healthy work environment. 

In the USPS your safety is only a secondary concern for far too many managers, supervisors as well as the USPS Safety Office, whose sole function appears to be enabling operations to do as they see fit. 

One of my favorite examples is after Hurricane Wilma, a Supervisor of Maintenance Operations was filling the gas tank of a generator, outside the employee entrance at the Ft. Lauderdale P&DC, the generator was running and this Darwin award candidate had a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  Yeah that’s the type of man I want in charge of my safety!

You don’t believe that?  At almost every USPS facility throughout the country the DBCS machines were installed ignoring the site prep guide and the USPS AS-504 handbook on the space requirements for the machines, so employees around the country have been experiencing Musculoskeletal Disorder injuries because there is not enough room around the machines.  Some employees chalk these injuries up to old age, due to the fact that management has made it so unpleasant to file a claim, the employee takes the path of least resistance and management doesn’t have to record it as an injury.  You should not be surprised to learn that USPS Management utilizes many scams or schemes, depending upon your point of view, to keep their OSHA Injury & Illness rates low.  Behavior based safety, peer pressure, intimidation, discipline, NRP etc.

Check out the modified GPMCs, at first it was just the “Walker modification” for DBCS dispatch mail, which prevented the raising of the top shelf for safely loading/unloading the bottom shelf.  Employees cut the top “mod” loose so they could safely perform their duties, in response someone in management came up with screwing the “walker mod” in place or performing the “Strut modification” where management has pop riveted struts between the back frame and the top and bottom shelves.  If District Safety was on the ball they would have said something to stop the creation of this unsafe condition, which violates the PO-502, EL-814 and the proper USPS Job Safety Analysis, not the flawed copy many facilities have downloaded and adopted. 

In the past the South Florida District Safety Manager had even permitted the towing of Utility Carts by Tow Motors, in contradiction of the USPS Training Manual.  Management always likes to say “that was in the past”, well you don’t have to kick me more than once to teach me something.  Management should be demonstrating to the employees that they really are serious about changing the way they are going to conduct business, unfortunately most USPS management are like spoiled little kids, they want it this way today and that way tomorrow, to suit whatever crap they are attempting to pull.

The USPS uses the Program Evaluation Guide (PEG) to judge a facility’s administration of USPS safety programs.  In this program Clerk’s are credited with getting “Safety Talks” just because they were on the clock a certain day.  PEG is just a paper exercise by management to possibly soothe their guilty conscience that they are providing a safe work environment.  It didn’t work out so well for their Electrical Work Program, over $6 million dollars in OSHA fines.  But it looked good on paper!

I used to be a proponent to contract out the USPS Safety duties, but since 2007 when money got tight and attending safety training seminars I have seen that many of these contract safety professionals have gotten collective amnesia of what their goal is… “to ensure a safe work environment and workforce”.  They have turned out not to be the hired safety guns they cast themselves as, but just common whores chasing the almighty dollar, enabling corporations to cut corners on employee safety.  I think maybe we should stick with the USPS Safety people…

Management’s other warm and fuzzy programs; the Ergonomics Risk Reduction Process (ERRP) a partnership between the APWU, NPMHU, OSHA and the USPS, and the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) were both touted by USPS Management and repeatedly stated that these programs were not going to be “flavor of the day” safety programs.
As far as ERRP goes in many places USPS Management had very few supervisors who were willing to participate in the process or give the craft members the necessary time to meet.  In the end it appears they were interested in just the “low hanging fruit” ergonomic issues, some quick cheap fixes.  I guess we should be thankful for that crumb.  But Ergonomics on the DBCS was not an ergonomic priority, and there are so many of those machines in service throughout the system.

VPP was to be an employee owned and employee driven safety program, but many times it was being done by management for a feather in their cap and an achievement they could list on their 991 or bragging rights.  Who knows?

In Region IV OSHA granted VPP Star status to almost any USPS facility that applied provided the building wasn’t on fire on the day of the OSHA audit of the facility.  It was really watered down, and USPS Management in the Southeast and Southwest Areas seemed to be more interested in the number of sites, so they could show the “FED-UP” lobbyists responsible for the Postal Employee Safety Enhancement Act, that put the USPS under OSHA rules, that the USPS had more safe workplaces.  See above reference to spoiled little kids.

At some VPP recertification audits when a different OSHA auditor from the original auditor is performing the audit I have heard them question how the facility gained Star status in the first place or during the exit meeting at the conclusion of one audit OSHA told management it was believed that it would be better for the facility to withdraw from VPP rather than be kicked out.  If the facility withdraws they can reapply a year after getting their house in order, if the facility is expelled they can’t reapply to the program for three years.

But OSHA has their own headaches with VPP, their own IG, a GAO report that ripped them, the Center for Public Integrity reporting on OSHA recertifying sites for VPP Star status after there were fatalities, or there were fatalities shortly after the recertification audit (Tropicana, Valero, International Paper, etc) at OSHA VPP Star facilities, citations stemming from these fatality investigations found that some of the facilities were not even meeting the minimum OSHA standards, which as a VPP Star site they were allegedly exceeding to earn the Star rating.  So much for OSHA’s awarding facilities VPP Star status, as being a model workplace line of crap.

ERRP & VPP were to be safety programs that USPS Management swore up and down were not going to be “flavor of the day” safety programs, yet if you check out management’s commitment to those programs these days both are being allowed to die a slow death.

I
am working at the different Ft. Lauderdale stations and branches, I am appalled at the safety violations I am seeing at these facilities, and yet when asked there are very few safety items submitted for the Joint Labor Management Safety & Health Committee meeting agenda.  Please submit safety items. The Ft. Lauderdale Joint Labor Management Safety & Health Committee meets in the months of January, April, July and October.  But, if you have a pressing safety issue, do not wait contact your steward or the Union Hall

I was once told by a clerk, at a station, that management had a NALC steward talk to her about not filing PS1767 forms, instead to notify management verbally and give them a chance to correct the issue.  Do not take the advice of any other Union’s stewards, they have their own agenda, and their NALC joint task force doesn’t seem to be doing that good of a job when it comes to safety at the stations from what I am seeing.  A paper trail is hard to hide, where “verbal isn’t worth the paper it is written on.”

The OSHA General Duty Clause states that it is your right to have a safe, clean and healthy workplace, but you also are required to follow the safety rules.  

File 1767s, Article 14 grievances, OSHA complaints, file them promptly, you can’t and shouldn’t save them as your ace in the hole.  These are protected activities and are covered by the OSHA whistleblower act.  For more information for your safety you can go to OSHA’s website or call them.

www.osha.gov
1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)

Safety Depends On Me?  W. L. “Bill” Pick - Maintenance Craft Director

© 2012 APWU BCAL 1201
247!
America Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
Broward County Area, Local 1201


Jeff Riddell, President
Sandra Munoz, Vice President