Thursday, February 18, 2016

Postal Safety Lip Service - Strange and Gory Tales from the Postal X-Files

By Mel Carriere

Every day postal employees are literally beaten to near unconsciousness by safety propaganda, to the point where they are literally slipping, tripping and falling over a perilous obstacle course of posters, videos, and mind numbing management blabber related to safety in the workplace.

Now I'm not here to tell you safety is unimportant. Unfortunately for those of us who are rolling our eyes and banging our heads against the metal sides of our letter cases during those interminably monotonous water boarding sessions known as stand up talks, people do need reminders, because a lot of folks think they are living on a separate plain of reality in some Einsteinian parallel universe where the laws of physics do not apply to them. Even if you tell these people 20 times a day "put on your seat belt," even if you imbed a nerve wracking electronic voice in their scanner with this message on continuous loop, tomorrow you will catch them driving untestrained through an intersection with the door open.  So yes, I concede that while reminders are annoying, they are important.

No, my main gripe is not how safety is stressed, but how it is used.  We have a supervisor who repeats the perpetual mantra "I don't want to have to tell your family members..." like it's on a rosary.  She will swiftly and mercilessly punish you for safety infractions, especially if she doesn't like you.  On the other hand, if she's in a bind, she doesn't have any problems making or letting you work when you are injured.

In other words, my question is, are postal supervisors truly committed to our safety, or are they only paying lip service to the concept, perhaps using it as a justification for discipline while completely ignoring it when convenient?

Here's a couple true stories as anecdotal evidence:

One of our carriers tripped on a manhole cover, severely injured a muscle or tendon, and was out for months.  He could barely walk, but when he got back to the office after the injury the supervisor had him split the route before going to the doctor.  Safety first!

Another terrible tale from the Postal X-Files of the unbelievable:  Even more recently, a letter carrier was bonked on the head when lowering the top gate of an APC.  He bled severely and profusely.  Not knowing what had happened, while going to the bathroom that day I saw bright red drops of blood leading to the sink.  Hansel and Gretel could have followed these through the forest and they wouldn't have had the problem of birds eating the bread crumbs.  The supervisor worked him a couple more hours casing routes before he left for medical treatment.  Turns out he had to get staples in his head.

Admittedly, the injured employees have more than a measure of blame here.  They should have told the supervisor "No I'm hurt and I'm leaving," or better yet, insisted that someone call an ambulance.  But then again, about 90 percent of we human beings have this damnably dangerous trait of not wanting to displease people, even as the custodian is mopping up our life's blood behind us.  Supervisors know this instinctively and take full advantage of it.

So what's it gonna be, Madame Supervisor?  Does my safety really matter, or is it just one more thing you're going to beat me over the head with?  I need to know, because I don't want to tell my family I'm flat on my back for six months because you didn't do the right thing.

Mel Carriere is notoriously unsafe while scribbling the Postal Tsunami without coffee.  If you don't want to be accidentally jabbed by his finely honed nib pen, please help him buy coffee by clicking on his ads.

Mel's latest on Hub Pages


  1. In my facility (and in all others, I'm sure) safety rules are are more like "suggestions" than "rules". They are perfectly fine with you breaking the rules in the name of speed and efficiency, they'll stand and watch you. But if you are unfortunate enough to get hurt doing something that you know you really shouldn't be, then it's "you know the rules", and some sort of discipline will be forthcoming. That's to cover their a**!

    1. Thank you Robert. You are right about these being only guidelines used to punish the carriers they don't like. Thanks for reading!