The Postal Service made continued safety improvements in 2008. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) injury and illness frequency rate for the Postal Service was 5.4 per 100 employees this year. This equates to 3,324 fewer employee injuries and illnesses when compared with 2007. The motor vehicle accident frequency rate was 9.52 per million miles. This is a 2.76 percent improvement from last year and equates to 396 fewer motor vehicle accidents.
Efforts to raise employee awareness on avoiding injury and illness included safety talks, publications, and videos, including the award-winning Safety Depends on Me video campaign. A public service video was launched to raise awareness of safety around our delivery vehicles.
The new Employee Health and Safety module for reporting and managing occupational accidents, injuries, and illnesses is being integrated into the Human Capital Enterprise System. The new system will provide injury case management tools to health and resource management specialists to manage their caseloads more efficiently. A pilot of the system began in October 2008 in the Massachusetts District.
Voluntary Protection Programs
The Postal Service was the first federal agency and second corporate entity to be approved into OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP) which recognizes facilities that have implemented best safety programs. To date, OSHA has approved a total of 167 Postal Service worksites for VPP participation, more than any private industry corporation and all federal agencies combined. In 2008, 42 additional facilities were recommended. On average, VPP sites post OSHA injury and illness reductions that are 12 percent better than non-VPP facilities.
Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process
The Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process (ERRP) reduces both the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders, builds labor/management teams with ergonomic skills, and cultivates partnerships to identify and control ergonomic risk. These partnerships include the Postal Service, OSHA, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the American Postal Workers Union. To date, 175 plants and 8 customer service districts have implemented the ERRP process. Since inception of the process in 2003, over 133,000 employees have received ERRP training; ERRP teams have analyzed and resolved 14,819 tasks; and 8,481 employee-submitted solutions (reducing handling and lifting injuries) have been implemented. ERRP sites that have been involved in the process for at least 12 months experienced a 13.2 percent reduction in musculoskeletal disorders this year.
Equal Employment Opportunity
In 2008, the Postal Service held training for supervisors and managers on the importance of equal employment opportunity, open communication, and the benefits of resolving complaints at the lowest possible level. This year, 18,292 informal complaints were processed, with 99 percent closed within regulatory timeframes.
The Postal Service’s goal is to provide high quality and timely complaint processing in accordance with EEOC regulations. The National EEO Investigative Services Office (NEEOISO) completed 99.58 percent of all investigations within the 180-day timeframe, and processed 40,074 requests for EEO counseling. NEEOISO completed 98.5 percent of Final Agency Decisions within 35 days from receipt. The Notice of Final Action process was completed within 25 days of receipt 95.1 percent of the time. Letters of Acceptance or Dismissal were mailed 98.67 percent of the time within the 35-day time allowance. Contract investigators and final agency decision writers were used to help maintain the neutrality of the investigative and decision process.
NEEOISO has consistently attained high scores in the completion of EEO cases, and is now providing services to 12 other federal agencies on a fee-for-service basis.
An Ethnicity and Race survey was conducted to comply with the EEOC’s requirement to report revised demographic information. Employees were asked to self-identify whether they are Hispanic or Latino then select the race or races with which they identify. The overall survey response rate was 59 percent.
Employee Assistance Program
The Postal Service Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides employees and family members with free voluntary, confidential counseling from licensed professionals. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in convenient locations to help with difficulties that affect employees’ lives and work. Issues typically include emotional, financial, legal, chemical dependency, marital, and family matters. In 2008, 55,000 employees and family members received counseling.
EAP also provides consultation to managers and supervisors on issues not only involving individual workers, but also their work environment. Ongoing preventive efforts, such as manager coaching and educational seminars on communication and stress management, help employees at all levels manage difficult situations. EAP provides key support after critical incidents such as natural disasters, workplace and community violence, and unexpected death. EAP also provided services to many employees and family members following the Midwest flooding, the California wildfires, and Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav, Hannah, and Ike.