- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has written up and fined the U.S. Postal Service for conditions last summer at the Portlock Station Post Office in Chesapeake, Virginia.

The facility went without running water and working bathrooms between July 1 and Aug. 31, the day after OSHA officials investigated the facility.

Inspectors found that USPS had not paid the water bills at the site since February 2022, OSHA announced Tuesday.

OSHA wrote up USPS on two citations. The first covered the serious violations — the lack of potable water and working lavatories for employees.

USPS “did not provide potable water to the facility exposing employees to heat illness and the spread of communicable diseases,” OSHA wrote in the first citation.

The second citation was for two related issues, both pertaining to chemical safety, for which the USPS had been written up other Virginia facilities previously.

“The employer did not compile a list of the hazardous chemicals known to be present using a product identifier that was referenced on the appropriate safety data sheet … [and] did not maintain copies of the required safety data sheets for each hazardous chemical in the workplace,” the second citation reads.

Altogether, USPS is being fined $13,840 for these violations, the vast majority of that money — $13,394 — being levied as a result of the water and bathroom violations. The fine for the chemical-notice violations was $446.

“Employers must ensure a safe and healthful workplace by making sure workers have access to water for drinking and sanitation. U.S. Postal Service management responsible for this facility should have acted more quickly to protect employee health,” Brian Rizzo, the OSHA agency director in Norfolk, said in an agency announcement.

USPS now has 15 days to either pay up or to contest OSHA’s findings. While the water issues have already been fixed, the missing chemical safety materials must be put up by Feb. 17, OSHA noted.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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