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Safety fine brought back down to Earth

post office

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration broke a ceiling on safety citations by issuing a United States Postal Service post office a $10,423 fine over miscolored ceiling tiles, according to a ruling made by an administrative law judge for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission that vacated the citation.

USPS was issued the one-item citation in 2019 after an OSHA inspector, looking into a water leak, found that the ceiling tiles at the Dora, Alabama, facility allegedly “were not kept in sanitary condition in that water stains and discoloration were observed.”

According to court documents, there was “no evidence in the record that the water stains and discoloration on ceiling tiles and insulation resulted in any mold or mildew” and that the inspector “did acknowledge the appearance of remediation already underway on the day she inspected the facility.”

The ruling on Secretary of Labor v. United States Postal Service, a decision issued in Jan. 25 but made public Saturday, the judge concluded that after policy revisions in 2016 such discoloration — a sign of unsanitary conditions — only apply to “walking-working surfaces,” and since ceiling tiles by definition were not “walking-working surfaces,” the Secretary was not authorized to cite USPS for ceiling tile violations.