A Safety Reminder for all Members

  VP/BA Bill Jones by Bill Jones, Vice President, BA, June 2003

The brutal truth is that most employers only enforce "safety of convenience" rules. For them, it's all about their bottom line and the "blame game."

Even after all the preaching we union representatives do, too many employees voluntarily work unsafely, pressured by management's (or sometimes self-imposed) productivity expectations.

Here is what you can expect if you have an accident:

You will have to truthfully cooperate in an investigation, and if you admit to working unsafely, you could expect to be disciplined. Declaring that every supervisor "knows what goes on" will carry little or no weight. What will matter is your acknowledgement that you had been instructed to work safely, and you didn't.

Employers do all they can to deny being the guilty party when you're hurt; it's a financial liability issue. Thus, if you would incur a work-related inury, expect your employer to look for ways to contest your claim.

If you think an instruction would require you to work unsafely, don't just refuse to work, discuss it with your supervior and ask for instructions on how to perform the task safely. If you know for certain that an activity is unsafe, don't do it. But be advised, you will have to prove that to perform the task at issue would require you to work in violation of a safety rule or instruction.

If you recognize an unsafe condition or practice, it is recommended that you put it in writing and submit it to your employer. Postal Employees should use Form 1767. If Form 1767 is not available, request one or call for your steward. These forms must be made available, and can be completed anonymously, if desired.

When you submit this form to your immediate supervisor during your tour, the supervisor should return it to you with the corrected response by the end of your tour. It is a good practice to make a copy of the original PS Form 1767 prior to turning it in for your own records and to turn it in to a union steward if the unsanitary condition is not abated.

And remember, management can at any time, when it is convenient for them, start initiating disciopline for safety rules violations... without any associated accident.

Safety rules, as with any work rules, are expected to be followed, and should discipline result from an employee violating a rule, that discipline is difficult to overturn.

For further reading about the Union's position on Safety Issues, read the article, Making Management Step Up on Job Safety, at the APWU's national website.