GREENSBORO, N.C. — An employee working at the U.S. Postal Service Greensboro distribution center had to have an arm amputated after contacting a machine that had a safeguard removed, according to a release from the United States Department of Labor.
The employee was a mechanic and suffered a life-changing injury back on September 27, 2021, according to the DOL.
"This situation was avoidable. It didn't have to happen," Leonard Dennison said. "There were multiple guards left off of equipment. The employee, while trying to service this piece of equipment, got entangled in a conveyor belt. He lost his arm as a result."
Dennison leads the Greensboro American Postal Workers Union chapter. He said the injured worker came to the distribution center 87 days before the accident.
"He's been with the Postal Service about four years prior as a city carrier and a clerk," Dennison said. "He came into the maintenance department here in July of last year. He is a 21 year retired Navy veteran."
The department of labor said it inspected the facility, which operated as Greensboro Network Distribution Center, and found repeat and serious safety violations.
The violations included "failure to ensure safety guards were in place as required and allowing conveyor guards to be routinely removed, leaving workers at risk of injuries," according to the news release.
The department of labor also said the staff was not trained on how to operate equipment safely, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA rea Director Kimberley Morton made a statement about the negligence of the safety measures.
“The U.S. Postal Service ignored long-established safety standards and put workers at risk,” Morton said. “The USPS has an obligation to eliminate hazards to ensure safe working conditions and prevent another worker from suffering a tragic and life-altering injury.”
OSHA has since given the company two serious and two repeat citations, adding up to almost $170,918 in fines.
Dennison said he doesn't think the change he's seen since the accident has gone far enough to protect his members.
"There need to be more changes made so that our members can come to work in a safe environment and with all the body parts that they came to work with. It's their right, it's what they're owed," Dennison said.
A USPS spokesperson released a statement, saying, "The Postal Service places the safety and well-being of its employees as a top priority. The Postal Service recently received a citation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration related to the incident that occurred at the Postal Service’s Greensboro NDC in September 2021 and the citation is currently under review. The Postal Service’s investigation into this matter remains open. As such, the Postal Service has no further comment at this point."
The Greensboro distribution center has 15 business days from the day they received the citation to respond to the changes.
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