A Postal Worker Begged for Stronger COVID-19 Protections. She Ended Up Spending Six Weeks in the Hospital.

Mon, 5 Feb 2024 12:03:33 +1100

Andrew Pam <xanni [at] glasswings.com.au>

Andrew Pam

"Last November, just as Minnesota was suffering through a punishing wave of
COVID-19, managers at a St. Paul U.S. Postal Service distribution center
allowed employees to hold a going-away party in the building.

Alejandra Hernandez, a mail handler at that center, was shocked when she saw
the gathering: Almost everything about it seemed to violate pandemic safety
policies. More than 15 of her colleagues were together in a break room meant
for six, chatting, eating and not wearing masks.

That day, she filed her second of three complaints to the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration. “I hoped that someone would come and make them take
this seriously,” Hernandez recalled.

She wasn’t the only one complaining about problems at the facility — another
employee had filed a complaint in July, alleging that workers weren’t being
alerted of potential exposures and the building didn’t have proper ventilation.
Others filed three more complaints in September alleging that the site’s
sanitation practices, personal protective equipment and quarantine measures
were insufficient.

The limited response to Hernandez and her colleagues’ appeals for help provides
a window into the failures of the Postal Service, one of the country’s largest
employers, and OSHA, which is supposed to protect workers, in responding to the
pandemic. Approximately 55,600 postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19
nationwide, and at least 197 have died.

In response to the complaints, OSHA conducted two remote inspections, done via
phone calls and emails. It found “incidental deficiencies” that did not merit
any fines or corrective action. Its report mentioned in passing a problem that
was far from incidental for Hernandez and others: Managers weren’t always
notifying workers about possible exposure."

Via Violet Blue’s Pandemic Roundup: January 4, 2023

       *** Xanni ***
mailto:xanni@xanadu.net               Andrew Pam
http://xanadu.com.au/                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu
https://glasswings.com.au/            Partner, Glass Wings
https://sericyb.com.au/               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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