It might not surprise you that dog bites are among the top accidents involving postal workers. After all, dog bites get a lot of media attention and even have a week dedicated to their prevention.
But that’s just one type of accident. Others include accidents involving motor vehicles, falls, and repetitive motion injuries. These risks are why the U.S. Postal Service focuses so much attention on reducing accidents in the workplace. It sets an accident frequency rate goal of 15 per year per 100 employees.
We recently audited USPS facilities in the Great Lakes Area because they reported the highest average accident frequency rate of all seven Postal Service areas the past two years, at 17.9 per 100 employees. Our objective was to determine if the Postal Service adhered to safety policies and procedures on accidents. We found room for improvement.
We visited 14 facilities in the Great Lakes Area, and reviewed all 26,051 accidents, including all 95 serious accidents for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. A serious accident is one that results in death, hospitalization, property damage exceeding $100,000, amputation, or loss of vision.
Our review found the Great Lakes management did not consistently adhere to safety compliance and accident reporting requirements. We noted:
- About one-third of serious accident investigative reports were not completed within the 15-day requirement.
- Sixty-nine percent of all eligible employees were not identified to participate in the mandatory CARE program, or the Counseling at Risk Employees program, which was established to engage employees in accident prevention using accident statistics, root cause analyses, and action plans.
- More than a third of total accidents did not have the required Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form filled out within 24 hours.
We recommended the Postal Service add an oversight mechanism to its review process to encourage timeliness of report completion. We also recommended management reconcile employee data to be sure eligible employees are included in the CARE program. USPS should also provide refresher training to area facility managers using available OSHA safety and health training on safety recordkeeping practices.
If you work at a postal facility, what safety issues have you witnessed or experienced?