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 71 of over 5,400 retail facilities in the Southern Area and assessed issues related to building safety, security, maintenance, customer complaints, and workplace environment and violence. We also assessed whether each facility was handicap accessible.
This is the fourth 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. During our review of 71 facilities we found:
- Forty-five (63 percent) had building safety and security issues;
- Forty-nine (69 percent) had building maintenance issues;
- Forty-eight (68 percent) did not maintain a customer complaint log or monitor how promptly complaints are resolved;
- Sixty-four (90 percent) did not display workplace environment posters such as those that inform employees what to do when injured at work;
- Thirty-two (45 percent) did not display workplace violence posters, such as Zero Tolerance Policy and Reporting Procedures;
- Fifty-nine (83 percent) had potential OSHA violations; and
- All facilities provided handicap accessibility but one needed structural repair to the ramp.
Issues related to building safety, security, and maintenance occurred because of competing priorities and local management’s failure to focus on cleaning, general maintenance and repairs, and housekeeping inspections. Management did not address other deficiencies due to budget constraints.
In addition, management did not provide sufficient oversight of or effectively communicate with employees regarding requirements for reporting deficiencies, completing inspections and facility maintenance, or the need to maintain a customer complaint log.
Attention to these areas could reduce the Postal Service’s exposure to OSHA fines and penalties. It could also improve employee morale and reduce turnover. Further, focus on these areas could reduce 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 our site visits, such as displaying missing posters, unblocking exits, and securing unlocked vehicles.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management develop and implement an action plan to address all building safety, security, maintenance, and workplace environment and violence policy issues identified during our audit; direct retail facilities to timely input all applicable safety, security, and maintenance issues into the electronic Facilities Management System; and reiterate requirements to perform housekeeping inspections and maintain customer complaint logs.
We also recommended management establish an oversight mechanism to ensure adherence to policies and procedures relating to maintenance standards, fire extinguisher maintenance, facility and vehicle safety, and poster display.