UPS facing $73k penalty in Louisville worker safety case - WDRB 41 Louisville News

UPS facing $73k penalty in Louisville worker safety case

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – UPS faces more than $73,000 in fines after inspectors uncovered workplace-safety violations at a Grade Lane hangar at Louisville International Airport, a federal database shows.

It is the steepest penalty levied against the package-delivery company in at least the last five years, according to a WDRB News analysis of online U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration records.

UPS has not challenged the fines, which represent the third-highest amount assessed in 2016 by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet. The Frankfort-based agency regulates working conditions at most businesses in the state under an agreement with the federal government.

One of the two violations against UPS was deemed “willful,” meaning an employer showed “careless disregard of a standard or of employee safety,” according to the Labor Cabinet. The violation involved rules governing platforms more than four feet high.

Specific details haven’t yet been made public because the case remains open. The Labor Cabinet’s policy is to release records once investigations have closed.

UPS public affairs officials released the following statement: 

"UPS addressed these concerns promptly after they occurred months ago and have contested the proposed citations and penalties through the Kentucky Department of Labor process."

"UPS places the highest emphasis on safety. Our comprehensive program meets, and often exceeds, regulatory standards. You can never rest when it comes to safety, so on the rare occasion when there is an issue, we address it promptly and review our program to make it even stronger going forward."

The union representing UPS aircraft mechanics has filed complaints with state and federal authorities this year alleging that workers have been injured when repair lifts and other equipment failed, according to documents filed in a federal lawsuit in November.

Teamsters Local 2727 said in early December that it and UPS had reached a settlement that requires the company to “immediately repair and inspect failing equipment used at gateways across the country.”

Under the agreement, UPS said it will inspect “malfunctioning” lifts used to reach planes’ mechanical components up to 25 feet above the ground, hire an independent investigator to determine why the lifts failed and create a new inspection program, according to the union. 

“Maintaining jet aircraft takes a toll on the body and it can be dangerous,” Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727, said in a statement. “The people who maintain UPS’s fleet need to be assured that their safety is taken seriously. Properly maintaining all equipment including the lifts will keep technicians safe.”

Lexington armored car company Garda CL Central received the highest fine issued by the Labor Cabinet in 2016 -- $103,400 – for six violations, including four that were willful, according to OSHA records.

State officials assessed a $91,000 penalty to Gibbs Die Casting Corp. of Henderson, Ky., after a worker was killed on the job in March. An employee at the plant died when he was trapped under a piece of equipment after a bolt broke, according to news accounts.

Like the UPS case, both of those investigations remain open.

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