Postal Service employees are exposed to asbestos, mold and other “sanitary issues” in agency buildings where birds and squirrels sometimes run amuck, which could result in nearly $19 million in fines, a government watchdog reported.
Most of the 20 Postal Service facilities examined by the agency’s inspector general (IG) had safety issues, security lapses or potential Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations, which threaten employee and customer safety and risk lawsuits and worker compensation fees.
“The Postal Service must improve adherence to building maintenance, safety and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at its retail facilities,” the Wednesday report said. Management neglected “cleaning and general maintenance and repairs” and “concerns for health, safety and security.”
Such lapses could result in “OSHA fines and penalties; poor employee morale and increased turnover; risk of injuries to customers and employees; and related costs such as workers’ compensation claims, loss of work and productivity, and lawsuits,” the report continued. (RELATED: First Class! Here’s How Bernie Sanders Might Be DESTROYING The Post Office)
Specifically, 90 percent of the inspected facilities had potential OSHA violations, such as “locked or blocked emergency exits, asbestos and mold, improper storage of flammable materials, insect infestation, trip hazards, and exposed electrical outlets and switches,” as well as “sanitary issues,” the report said.
The IG found 51 potential OSHA infractions across the inspected buildings.
“Fines typically range from $3,000 to $7,000 per violation,” but can increase up to $70,000 in certain situations, the report said.
OSHA levied $1.4 million in fines in 2015, according to the IG, which also predicted that the Postal Service could face up to $18.6 million in violation fines in just one region.
Postal Service managers disagreed with that estimate and “questioned the qualifications of [IG] personnel who performed the audits,” the report said.
Additionally, at least half the inspected facilities had lighting or appearance issues, while another 40 percent had security issues “such as unlocked doors and vehicles” and non-functioning safes,” the report said.
Meanwhile, two buildings “had issues with birds and squirrels accessing facility work areas through damaged roofs,” the report continued.
The Postal Service leases or owns more than 30,000 retail facilities across the U.S. This audit was the first in a series focusing on Postal Service buildings’ appearance, safety and security.
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