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OSHA: Iowa Postal Distribution Center Delivering Forklift Hazards

A U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Iowa exposed workers to hazards related to unstable forklift loads and speeding forklifts.

OSHA has cited the U.S. Postal Service Network Distribution Center in Urbandale, Iowa for two repeated safety violations and one serious safety violation and has proposed penalties of $88,000.

Investigators from OSHA’s Des Moines area office investigated the facility in October 2015, following a complaint alleging forklift operators were handling unstable loads and driving forward with no clear path of visibility. The inspection found that employees were exposed to crushing and struck-by hazards associated with operating powered industrial trucks.

"Each year, thousands of workers are injured - some fatally - while operating forklifts. Employers with workers who move materials with forklifts must ensure loads are stable, and pathways are clear to prevent injury," said Larry Davidson, OSHA’s area director in Des Moines.

According to OSHA, “At the Priority Mail Loading Docks 86-90, the employer failed to take such actions as appropriate training, instruction, visual observation and other means when the forklift operator had been involved in an accident or near-miss. Operators were moving OTRs where the size of the OTR created an off-center load. Operators were not ensuring the OTR was safely arranged and reducing the speed to a safe level at all times while negotiating turns to prevent the load (OTRs) from shifting, rocking then tipping off the forks. This condition exposed employees to struck-by hazards.”

The U.S. Postal Service previously was cited for a violation of this occupational safety and health standard at its facility in Federal Way, Wash. The facilities in Iowa and Washington are part of the national system of highly mechanized and automated mail processing with a transportation network dedicated to handling and moving standard mail, periodicals, package services and other mail classes.

A second repeat citation was issued because “the employer failed to ensure that only stable or safely arranged loads were handled. Forklift trucks were used to unload OTRs where the size of the OTR created an off-center load. At times prior to the inspection, fork lift operators did not ensure the load was stable or safely arranged on the forks while removing the load (OTR) from the tractor trailer such that the load shifted and rocked then tipped off the forks. This condition exposed employees to struck-by hazards.” Again, the U.S. Postal Service’s facility in Federal Way previously was cited for a violation of the same standard.

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