USPS Worker Dies in Brylane Warehouse Accident

Indiana workplace safety officials and postal inspectors are investigating the death of a U.S. Postal Service clerk in a conveyor-related accident at Brylane's Indianapolis facility.

Bruce McFarland, a 37-year postal employee, was injured March 31 and died April 4. The facility warehouses inventory, and receives and fulfills purchasing orders from individual consumers. McFarland worked at Brylane's Detached Mail Unit, an area of the facility where postal employees perform mail verification, acceptance, dispatch and other postal functions.

He was “trapped between a door and a conveyor,” said Pete Rimsans, a spokesman at the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Division, which is investigating. “There was a crushing injury.”

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is also conducting an internal investigation, USPS spokeswoman Darla Stafford said.

Brylane, New York, a subsidiary of Redcats, the home shopping division of Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, markets and distributes apparel and home furnishings for various mail-order catalogs.

This is not the first report of safety issues at Brylane plants.

In November 2002 several union groups alleging unsafe working conditions at Brylane warehouse and distribution facilities in the Indianapolis area and sweatshop conditions overseas protested against the cataloger in front of its midtown Manhattan offices.

The event included the distribution of a “Sweatshop Holiday Catalog 2002,” which was mailed to thousands of consumers nationwide. The catalog featured six female Brylane employees with descriptions of how they suffered physically as a result of their work.

Participants in the event included the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees; union and sweatshop activists; and five Brylane employees from Indianapolis.

In January 2003, workers at Brylane distribution centers in Indiana voted to join UNITE.

“We do represent the distribution center workers in Indiana, and one main concern of theirs when they thought to form a union was that there were health and safety concerns,” said UNITE spokeswoman Amanda Cooper, who was not aware of the accident.

Brylane officials could not be reached for comment.

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