Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service adhered to safety policies and procedures related to accidents in the Great Lakes Area.
The Postal Service’s accident frequency rate measures the estimated annual accident frequency per 100 employees. During fiscal years (FY) 2016 and 2017, the Great Lakes Area had the highest average accident frequency rate of all seven USPS areas. Their average accident frequency rate of 17.9 exceeded both the organization’s goal of 15 and the national average of 15.7.
The Postal Service categorizes accidents by serious and general. A serious accident results in death, inpatient hospitalization, property damage exceeding $100,000, amputation, or loss of vision; whereas, a general accident is all other accidents that do not meet the serious accident criteria.
We visited 14 facilities in the Great Lakes Area, and reviewed all 26,051 accidents, including all 95 serious accidents for FYs 2016 and 2017.
We also reviewed employee participation in the Counseling At Risk Employees (CARE) program, which was established to engage employees in accident prevention using accident statistics, root cause analyses, and action plans.
What the OIG Found
The Great Lakes Area did not consistently adhere to safety compliance and reporting requirements related to accidents. Specifically:
- Thirty-five percent (33 of 95) of all serious accident investigative reports were not completed within the 15-day requirement, incomplete, or not completed at all.
- Sixty-nine percent (11,618 of 16,913) of all eligible employees were not identified to participate in the mandatory CARE program.
- Thirty-eight percent (10,021 of 26,051) of total accidents did not have an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 301, Injury and Illness Incident Report, created in the Employee Health and Safety system within 24 hours.
Additionally, of the fourteen facilities we visited:
- Twenty-nine percent (four of 14) did not post OSHA Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses as required. Facility management took corrective action by displaying the form in a visible location on the workroom floor.
- Fourteen percent (two of 14) did not retain OSHA Forms 300, Log of Work‑Related Injuries and Illnesses as required.
These issues occurred because the current serious accident review reporting process does not include oversight from the area regarding timeliness compliance. In addition, the Postal Service Headquarters Safety and OSHA Compliance Office is not ensuring the CARE Tracking Tool system is updated to reflect eligible CARE program participants. Lastly, facility managers are not taking advantage of available OSHA recordkeeping training.
As a result, the Great Lakes Area is not fully meeting serious accident investigative reporting requirements, which may lead to information not being available or visible for identifying accident root causes; existing safety measures may not be adequately assessed for effectiveness; eligible employees are not participating in the CARE program; and noncompliance of recordkeeping requirements could lead to OSHA citations and penalties.
What the OIG Recommended
We recommended management incorporate an area oversight mechanism in the review process to promote transparency in the timeliness of report completion and include additional comprehensive data in the Human Resources Safety Dashboard related to serious accident reporting timeliness and causality of accidents.
We also recommended management ensure eligible employees are included in the CARE program by reconciling employee data, and assess available OSHA safety and health training regarding safety recordkeeping practices to provide applicable refresher training to facility managers in the Great Lakes Area.