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We Need Safer Work Practices
By Joe Bodary
Retired Postmaster of Lincoln Park, MI, and Michigan State Branch 925 Corresponding Secretary
As a retired postmaster, I now have time to figure out what I could have done while I was working to make my post office a better, safer place to work. I can share with you the things I’ve observed and what you can do to make it a better, safer work environment!
The Postal Service is everywhere. While driving around, taking the grandkids to fun places, shopping, eating out and visiting people, I started observing carriers and noticed quite a few things that need to be corrected. Below are a few.
Observation 1—Talking on cell phones while driving and walking and delivering mail. There are so many of these instances in just about every city I go through in just about any state. It scares me!
In Michigan, it is illegal to use or hold a cell phone while operating a vehicle, yet that doesn’t seem to be a concern to some carriers. I have signaled to a few carriers to put the phone down, but I get a look like “Who are you?” And they continue driving and talking as they usually are …
Observation 2—Speeding! I can’t catch up to them to tell them anything. I will not risk my life or the life of anyone else. Sometimes I’m able to get a vehicle number and forward it to a postmaster for them to act. I care about everyone.
Observation 3—Door open and no seatbelt while driving through intersections and onto highways. My heart always skips a beat when I see this and I see it way more than I should. I don’t understand anyone not wearing a seatbelt. My grandkids will not let me pull away from a curb until we do a check that everyone’s seatbelt is buckled.
Carriers are adults and are properly trained how to drive and deliver safely. So why don’t they do it? I’ve seen a carrier actually driving with the door open, their right leg hanging out the door and using their left foot to work the gas and brake! If a car had broadsided them, they would not have a leg.
Observation 4—Headphones on, singing and dancing to the music while delivering the mail. I certainly hope they are on the right street. What about the dog or kids playing on the sidewalk up ahead or the missing sidewalk. I’ve seen a carrier walk in freshly poured cement! For everyone’s safety, they must be aware of their surroundings.
Observation 5—Blowing through stop signs, yield signs and red lights. What?! Oh yes, I’ve seen it! Is it worth running that stop sign and hitting a child to get to your next point? Carriers need to slow down and obey signs.
Observation 6 (this one I call the combo)—A carrier pulling collection boxes, door open, no seatbelt, talking on the phone while pulling the box while in the vehicle and driving across an intersection with a leg hanging out. Because they had their head cocked to hold the phone, they were unable to look for traffic coming either way. Apparently, that phone call was important. I had to holler; they waved and continued driving.
Safety is the responsibility of the installation head—the postmaster. Folks, the answer is in observations. Offices with supervisors do observations, but what do they do with them? Are you getting copies and ensuring action is taken? Even though I had supervisors, I went out every day checking on carriers.
I know you have a lot of work you must do in the office, but make sure your POOM knows you are observing for a half hour or hour each day. There are a lot of retired postmasters who make these same observations and report them to their local office—more should do this. You are saving a life!
Let’s all work together to make the USPS a better, safer workplace!