Background

The U.S. Postal Service has more than 30,000 leased and owned retail facilities nationwide. About 3,840 of these facilities are in the Great Lakes Area. The Post Office lobby is the principal business office of the Postal Service. The lobby’s appearance directly affects the Postal Service’s image because it is the only close-up view of postal operations for many customers. The Postal Service must maintain a safe environment for both employees and customers and follow safety laws set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Our objective was to determine if Postal Service management adhered to building maintenance, safety, and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at retail facilities. We reviewed 32 facilities in the Great Lakes Area and assessed items related to building safety, security and maintenance, customer complaints, workplace environment, and violence. We also assessed whether each facility was handicap accessible.

This is the second in a series of audits assessing retail facility conditions nationwide.

What the OIG Found

The Postal Service must improve adherence to building maintenance, safety and security standards, and employee working condition requirements at its retail facilities. We reviewed 32 facilities and found:

  • Eighteen (56 percent) had building safety and security issues;
  • Nineteen (59 percent) had building appearance issues;
  • Sixteen (50 percent) did not maintain a customer complaint log or monitor how promptly complaints are resolved;
  • Sixteen (50 percent) did not display workplace environment posters such as informing employees what to do when injured at work;
  • Eight (25 percent) did not display workplace violence posters related to proper conduct on Postal Service property; and
  • Twenty-four (75 percent) had potential OSHA violations.
  • All facilities complied with handicap accessibility requirements.

These conditions occurred because of competing priorities and local management’s failure to focus on cleaning and general maintenance and repairs. In addition, postmasters or facility managers were unaware they needed to perform housekeeping inspections and personnel at some leased facilities were unaware that they must call the Facilities help desk to report maintenance issues. Management did not address other deficiencies due to budget constraints or the property owner’s refusal to perform requested repairs.

Attention to these areas will reduce the Postal Service’s exposure to OSHA fines and penalties; poor employee morale and increased turnover; risk of injuries to customers and employees; and related costs such as workers’ compensation claims, loss of work and productivity, and lawsuits. Poorly maintained and unappealing lobbies can also reduce brand loyalty, which impacts revenue.

Local management began taking corrective action by immediately addressing certain deficiencies brought to their attention during site visits, such as displaying missing posters, unblocking exits, and securing unlocked vehicles. In addition, the Postal Service temporarily closed one of its facilities to address deficiencies observed during our review.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management develop an action plan to address all building maintenance, safety, security, workplace environment, and workplace violence policy issues identified during our review. We also recommended management enforce the requirement to perform housekeeping inspections; and provide training to improve building maintenance, housekeeping, safety and security standards, management of local customer complaints, and the display of required posters.

In a July 2016 report on facility conditions in the Capital Metro Area, we recommended management develop a process to improve coordination among Facilities personnel, managers, and property owners to timely resolve repair issues. This recommendation is still open; therefore, we are not making a recommendation to address the issue in this report.

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