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VPP Programs USPS Acton Post Office Site Achieves OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) Recognition and Develops Best Practices


Background:

The United States Postal Service (USPS) employs more than 700,000 workers at its 675 mail processing facilities and more than 38,000 retail sites. In August 2007, with injury and illness rates that were 80 percent lower than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national average, one of these sites, the Acton Post Office in Massachusetts, attained OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) recognition. In 2003, USPS also began participating in the OSHA Strategic Partnership Program (OSPP) and currently has a national partnership with OSHA.

Success Impact:

Safety and Health Best Practices Evolve Out of Employee-Management Cooperation

At the Acton Post Office site, committee meetings were held monthly to bring postal workers and management together to discuss current safety and health issues. The committees reviewed the record of injuries and accidents that took place, identified trends, and looked for ways to minimize or alleviate them. A few of the targeted areas for improvement included:
  1. Fewer Left-hand Turns

    In order to eliminate 30 to 40 left-hand turns for mail trucks, the Acton Post Office redrew many of their mail routes. Postmaster Dennis Mahoney noted that it is particularly hard for mail trucks to turn left because the driver sits on the right side of the vehicle [a]ll the mail trucks are built this way because if the truck driver sat on the left, he or she would have to get out at every mailbox or drive on the wrong side of the street.
     
  2. Installing Hazard Lights

    The snowy, winter conditions in Massachusetts make it difficult for the white mail trucks to be spotted. However, the post office was able to cut down on the number of rear end collisions by simply installing bright yellow flashing hazard lights on all of its 23 vehicles. As a result, the post office saw a significant decline in the number of rear end collisions. During the winter of 2005-2006, Actons mail vehicles were struck six times. Once the lights were installed, the vehicles did not experience a single collision.
     
  3. Training Employees on Proper Ergonomic Practices

    Lifting and moving heavy objects is part of many postal workers daily lives, which is why the Acton Post Office felt it was necessary to properly train its 52 employees on correct ergonomic practices. Since the training, there has only been one back injury in the past three years and one shoulder injury in the past five years. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and First Aid training is also part of the comprehensive safety and health training offered to employees.
Other benefits that evolved from increased cooperation between management and employees include:
  • A better trained workforce
  • Improved communication and organizational skills
  • USPS, Labor and OSHA resolving issues as partners for improved employee safety and health
  • Management and union leadership working together
  • Better morale and evidence that the USPS cares about its employees
  • Improved mail flow
  • Low-cost improvements.
Origin: Region I, Boston Regional Office

Partners: United States Postal Service Acton, Massachusetts Post Office

Entered VPP: August 2007

Industry: Couriers (NAICS Code 4921, SIC Code 4210)

Source and Date: Region I, Boston Regional Office (August 2007)