Any federal employee can get hurt or develop an illness while working. However, it seems postal workers are more likely to become injured or ill while working than other federal workers. This post will look at some of the most common injuries or illnesses that affect postal workers; dog bites, falls, car accidents, repetitive motion, and mailing hazardous material.
Letter or Postal Carrier
These carriers deliver the mail in any weather; rain, snow, sleet, wind, heat, and extreme cold. Also, their route may require them to walk 10-15 miles per day. Both city and rural letter carriers carry mailbags weighing up to 35 pounds; however, rural carriers drive much more than city carriers. They both must load and unload trays and containers that may weigh up to 70 pounds.
It can be argued that letter carriers are the most susceptible to sustaining injuries while on the job. There are so many points during their route that can be harmful.
This is a no brainer. A car accident can happen at any moment on any given day. Postal workers can sustain mild or life-threatening injuries due to one. Of course, this can lead to being out of work for long periods of time and being unable to perform essential job duties. Slick road conditions from rain and ice can play a part as well.
Slips and Falls
Because letter carriers deliver mail in any type of weather, a slip or fall is extremely common. Walking on sidewalks and up and down stairs that haven’t been cleared of snow makes for very slippery and unsafe conditions. Also, poor maintenance on sidewalks and stairs alike can cause falls and trips, especially if covered up by snow.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Doing the same movement repeatedly, in any job, can cause injuries to that part of the body. This is especially true with mail carriers who “case their route” before heading out and delivering mail. Carrying a heavy mail bag on the same shoulder and walking the same mail route day after day are examples of repetitive motions that can be harmful.
The USPS says that dog attacks rose 14 percent in 2015 (the most recent data available) up to 6,549. One reason for this increase may be that there was an increase in packages delivered; 4.5 billion in 2015 up from 3.3 billion in 2011. In an effort to keep up with UPS and FedEx, the USPS shifted their service to weekends and evenings when more people are home and able to sign for their orders. This increased the odds of dog attacks.
There was also a new feature added to the devices used to scan packages called Trip Hazards. This warns letter carriers of unsafe obstacles on their route, such as steps, ice, downed wires, and dogs. This new feature rolled out May 13, 2016, just ahead of National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Most carriers carry “Back Off”—a dog repellant made especially for postal workers, with cayenne pepper extract.
Here is a list of the top cities with the most dog attacks in 2015.
While less common, handling packages containing hazardous material can be very dangerous for postal workers. Illness, or even death, can occur. We saw that during the Anthrax attacks in 2001.
Just recently, the USPS was fined over $342 thousand for exposing MD postal workers to bloodborne pathogens. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) responded to employee complaints that they were exposed to blood and other potentially infectious bodily fluids while handling packages. These packages were labeled as containing biological infectious materials.
The OSHA press release noted, “The willful violations relate to the employers’ failure to have an implemented written bloodborne pathogens exposure control plan, including performing an exposure determination and offering exposed employees the Hepatitis B vaccine.” They also noted, “The USPS failed to implement a hazard communication program and didn’t properly train workers for bloodborne pathogen protection or provide them with properly-sized gloves, resulting in other violations.”
OSHA inspections of this site began in May 2016. Their report also said, “Exposure to bloodborne pathogen hazards can result in serious or life-threatening illnesses. To reduce or eliminate these hazards….an exposure control plan must be implemented to protect employees and provide a safe and healthy workplace.”
Repetitive stress from sorting mail is a common injury for these workers. They spend most of their day doing that. Lifting heavy boxes and pushing heavy containers around causes injuries to them as well.
Postal workers have one of the highest probabilities of becoming injured or ill because of their job. They are also the largest agency that we work with. We have helped countless postal workers with their federal disability retirement cases. If you are a postal worker who can no longer perform your job duties, please don’t hesitate to call us at 877-226-2723, or fill out this inquiry form, and find out how we can help you!
Here is what just a few of our past USPS clients have had to say:
“I found the Harris Federal Law Firm online and took a blind leap of faith in contacting them and utilizing their services. They did an excellent job in assisting me and obtained Federal Disability for me in only 9 months. I found them to always be professional, proactive, and responsive to my case. After suffering a back injury and undergoing 2 spinal surgeries, I felt as though the Letter Carriers Union totally abandoned me and offered neither suggestions nor alternatives (after years of paying what totaled over $10,000 in Union dues during my employment). The Harris Federal Law Firm gave me more information in a 10-minute phone call than the Union Representative offered in 5 years. I would highly recommend this firm to any of my fellow federal employees who find themselves in a similar predicament and feel they need help. The Harris Federal Law Firm did an excellent job.”
L.T. – Hialeah, FL USPS
“Thank you, Harris Federal!! All of this wouldn’t have happened without your representation because having your backing has made all of the difference. I should have called Harris Federal several years back to represent me for an EEO situation which I chose to do on my own because I had no idea that I needed legal representation to win. Seriously, I am so thankful for Harris Federal and the high integrity of the employees. I will also spread the word as I talk to my postal friends. You might want to send me some more of your business cards!”
M.D. – Rockford, IL USPS
“Anna, I just wanted to say thanks for the job you did and Harris Law Firm. At times I became impatient and worried that things would not go through. However, you were very calming, reassuring and knowledgeable in your responses to me. It helped a lot. Again, thanks!”
P.A. – Lexington, KY USPS
“I just want to thank everyone for all the time and help you gave me. From the very first phone call, Devon and Cal made me feel very comfortable and at ease. Marcus was great as well! He was so helpful, patient and kind during my retirement process. Marcus made the process so much easier. Thank you so much for helping me get my disability retirement and giving me my life back! 5 stars to all! I have given your info to several people!”
K.B. – Lowell, AR USPS